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Although people have long been fascinated by the behavior of animals, the formal discipline of animal behavior--ethology--is actually relatively new, dating to the work of Konrad Lorenz in Austria in the 1930s. Application of ethological principles and methods to the study of animal welfare is an even newer endeavor, of course, and one that has generated a great deal of stimulating discussion and controversy during its short history. In this paper, I provide an overview of the development of behavioral approaches to the study of animal welfare. I then discuss some reasons that behaviors are important to animals and describe how an understanding of behavior can be useful when designing housing environments for laboratory animals.


open access article