Laura Candelotto

University University of Zurich, Master in Animal Behaviour
Project at the WSC Comparing prosocial behaviour towards their pack members in dogs and wolves
With us since March 2017
Favourite animal at the WSC Aragorn and Ela

Ever since I was a child, I knew that I wanted to work with animals one day. However, my research at that time has mainly focused on the snails in our garden, which I have been adopting as flat mates into our family home, much to the chagrin of my mother. Animals have always fascinated me and they continue to exceed my expectations until today. It has therefore been the obvious choice for me to do my final project in grammar school in the field of biology. My teacher at that time suggested – as a joke - to work with chickens, which we then actually ended up doing. So we were observing the behaviour of laying hens and broilers to compare it to the behaviour of the red jungle fowl. This way I realized for the first time the huge effects domestication of animals actually has on their behaviour.

For my bachelor thesis in biology at the University of Bern I again worked with chickens and did behavioural observations of broiler breeders. After that, I worked as a research assistant at the animal welfare division of the Veterinary Public Health Institute for one year where I participated in a study about bone fractures in laying hens. As a passionate observer, however, I was more interested in the behavioural differences between domesticated and not domesticated animals, especially regarding social behaviours and the communication within animal groups but also between animals and humans.

After I have been working with their food, I would now like to study the behaviour of dogs and wolves. They are especially interesting when studying the effects of domestication. Apart from that, they are just beautiful, amazing creatures, which again and again surprise me. The WSC is unique and offers a great possibility to compare the behaviour of dogs and wolves by raising and keeping them under the same conditions. I am therefore delighted to do my master thesis here, comparing prosocial behaviour towards their pack members in dogs and wolves.