“Sources of Stress in Captivity” / Morgan, Tromborg

“Normal humans” experience empathy? Psychology’s biggest lie.

An extensive and clearly written discussion of the factors that produce stress in captive animals. I believe that Asperger children are the human equivalent of animals forced to function in a “captive” state, and must endure rejection, neglect and outright hostility on the part of modern social typicals, who are misled by psychologists. So-called symptoms of a “disorder” are reactions to an unhealthy social regime that also harms many typical children.

Diagnosis: ASPERGER

GOOGLE: Most Downloaded Applied Animal Behaviour Science Articles / First article listed: Sources of Stress in Captivity


Applied Animal Behaviour Science

Volume 102, Issues 3–4, February 2007, Pages 262–302 / Conservation, Enrichment and Animal Behaviour

Edited By Ronald Swaisgood

Sources of stress in captivity / Kathleen N. Morgan , Chris T. Tromborgb

Abstract: Animals housed in artificial habitats are confronted by a wide range of potentially provocative environmental challenges. In this article, we review many of the potential stressors that may adversely affect animals living in captivity. These include abiotic, environmental sources of stress such as artificial lighting, exposure to loud or aversive sound, arousing odors, and uncomfortable temperatures or substrates. In addition, confinement-specific stressors such as restricted movement, reduced retreat space, forced proximity to humans, reduced feeding opportunities, maintenance in abnormal social groups, and other restrictions of behavioral opportunity are considered. Research in support of the claims for these environmental elements as stressors for captive animals reveals no unique suite of behavioral or physiological responses that will clearly indicate the cause of those responses; rather, it is up to us as managers and caretakers of animals in captivity to evaluate enclosures and husbandry practices to ensure the optimal well-being of animals in our care.

I think that ASD children and adults will identify with animal behaviors that are a consequences of captivity – for us – confinement in an alien social environment.



A “stressor” in this case may be an actual physical challenge to homeostasis (such as exposure to a sudden change in temperature, physical restraint or combat), or the threat of such a challenge (such as a direct stare from a more dominant individual, or the approach of a human with handling gloves). In either case, stressors result in a cascade of physiological events designed to prepare the body for homeostatic challenge—the so-called “fight or flight” response.

“In contrast to how humans perceive them, the artificial environments typical of captivity are full of sensory stimuli that might be at best alien to an animal, if not overtly stressful. Unnaturally intense, punctate, or constant sound, the odor or sight of historic ecological adversaries, the elimination of scent-marks with daily cage cleaning, the rough and unyielding surfaces of gummite, tile, wire, or concrete, and exposure to aberrant lighting conditions might all be sources of environmental stress for animals in captivity.” 

“Traditionally, animals housed in artificial surroundings have been subjected to arbitrary light cycles, commonly 12 h of light alternating with 12 h of dark. On the other hand, constant lighting is a common practice in many agricultural settings (Hester, 1994). Neither of these lighting regimes consider the effect of light cycles on behavior. Constant exposure to extended photoperiods can alter the melatonin to serotonin ratio, affecting the rate of catabolic and anabolic activity of important enzymes in the central nervous system (van Rooijen, 1984). Continuous exposure to light also suppresses circadian activity (Ikeda et al., 2000), and as anyone who has ever experienced jet lag can tell you, disruption of normal circadian rhythms is stressful. In at least one study, varying light conditions produced differences in sleep behavior in rats (Vanbetteray et al., 1991). Disruptions of sleep and circadian cycles have been used to induce stress in some experiments; thus, if lighting conditions can adversely affect sleep, they have obvious impacts on stress.”

“Fluorescent lighting that is favored because of its reduced maintenance costs may also restrict access to particular wavelengths of light needed for optimal animal well-being.”

“Animals continuously subjected to intense noise manifest stress responses by exhibiting elevated levels of arousal (Gamble, 1982), both behaviorally and physiologically. Loud sound is well known to have adverse effects on blood pressure and heart rate in humans (Hagerman et al., 2005 and Smith, 1991) and other animals (Geverink et al., 1998 and Salvetti et al., 2000). Physiologically, prolonged exposure to intense noise is associated with increased activity in the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system. Its prolonged activation is correlated with increased activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system, elevated metabolic rates, increased blood pressure, and tachycardia (Ames, 1978, Anthony et al., 1959 and Henkin and Knigge, 1963). This arousal can have deleterious long-term effects on animals that experience it directly (for a review, see Sapolsky et al., 1987), but also on offspring in utero. Exposure of pregnant animals to noise-induced physiological arousal results in immunosupression (Sobrian et al., 1997), exaggerated distress responses to aversive events (Morgan and Thayer, 1997), changes in auditory threshold (Canlon et al., 2003), increased disturbance behaviors (Schneider et al., 2002), impaired learning (Nishio et al., 2001 and Morgan et al., 1999), abnormal social behavior (Clarke and Schneider, 1993 and Morgan et al., 1997), and suppressed exploratory behavior (Poltyrev et al., 1996) in offspring. Such long-term effects of exposure to loud sound are important considerations for conservation-minded managers of animals housed in the typically noisy surroundings of captivity.”

“In comparison, chronic, long-term stress results in prolonged elevation of GCC (glucocorticoids) levels that in effect become self-sustaining, as prolonged high levels of circulating GCCs damage areas of the brain responsible for terminating the stress response.” (This is exactly the ‘problem’ in Asperger anxiety/panic – our brains cannot turn off the stress response.)



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