Do Humans Suffer from Zoochosis?

Zoochosis is a word used to explain the stereotypical behavior of animals in captivity, which tends to be ones that show a creature going crazy since it is not in its natural environment, as I discussed in this post. But here’s an interesting question. As a nomadic species for tens of thousands of years, and a rural one at that as little as a few decades ago that is but a blink in our evolutionary history, are we suited to the urban lifestyle that is not unlike a zoo for us? And can we answer that by seeing if we suffer similar symptoms to zoochosis we diagnose in animals, when we live in dense urban areas lacking much nature?

This Hidden Brain podcast provides some pretty interesting, if not conclusive, answers, even though the research wasn’t quite framed like that. I’m actually surprised they didn’t make the connection. It would have made the story and research a lot more relatable as we all know the concept of zoos and what it must be like to be an animal trapped in there for people to see, pet, and such, in a place very different than the ones they belong in, despite our best efforts to make the zoo areas similar to their natural environment.

Definition: Zoochosis


Zoochosis is a word used to explain the stereotypical behavior of animals in captivity. The stereotypic behavior is described as an invariant, repetitive behavior pattern with no apparent goal or function. Animals in zoos and other forms of captivity suffer from stress and depression and display unusual behaviors. These habits are not displayed by animals roaming in the wild which means that confinement has detrimental effects on the health of animals. The condition was identified by Bill Travers in 1992. Zoochosis is displayed through behavioral disorders such as circling, pacing, bar biting, excessive grooming, addiction, and self-harm. Zoochotic animals also portray eating disorders such as anorexia.

– from World Atlas

I have learned a TON of new words and concepts this year from my new habit of podcast listening. I have been sharing them on a board at my work, but it only dawned on me recently they would make for interesting blog posts. Starting today, you’ll see a fair share of blog posts among the ones I make that will be able new words and concepts I’ve learned. They may not be new to you every now and then, pending your knowledge and interests, but I’m betting more than half of them will be to new to more than half of you. This is because a lot of them are either recent concepts with new terms or words, or obscure ones not many know about.

Where a word or concept has a podcast mostly about it, I will also link the podcast. This term was only briefly mentioned in one podcast about depression I blogged about a few days ago so if you were more interested, it wouldn’t be the source I’d recommend you’d check out. The link with the definition above to World Atlas is pretty good, though.