Burghardt Speaks to Nat Geo About Walrus Play

Gordon Burghardt spoke to National Geographic about the play behavior of walruses. New research shows walruses are playful creatures and like to toy with bird carcasses.

Burghardt, an expert on animal play who was not part of the study, said that play is often derived from other behaviors such as courtship, fighting, and feeding.

The article notes that Burghardt “does believe that the researchers’ observations fall under the definition of animal play: repeated, pleasurable behavior that’s similar, but not identical, to other behaviors in which the animal regularly engages. It also must be seen when the animal is healthy and not under stress. He adds it’s crucial that we study species not typically thought of as being playful—from walruses to insects to fish—in order to better understand the fascinating phenomenon.” Read the story online.

Burghardt, a UT Alumni Distinguished Service Professor, holds appointments in the Departments of Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.