Raf Freire

Associate Professor Raf Freire

Animal Behaviour and Welfare

Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences


With a background in zoology and experimental psychology, Raf Freire seeks to better understand the effect of human contact on animal behaviour in a broad range of contexts. In captive animals, the effect of humans is mainly concerned with the effect on animal welfare. For animals involved in re-introduction programs, behaviour is important in predicting the chances of released animals surviving and thriving, and for ensuring that population resilience to environmental change is a central facet of management and pre-release training practices. In wild populations, the behaviour of the animal is often the first line of defence against anthropogenic challenges, and the ability of an animal to respond and adapt in a way that maximises its chances of survival is critical for determining the impact of environmental change. Better knowledge of wild animal behaviour therefore provides a more complete understanding of the impact of disturbances on population dynamics, and allow us to better predict population trends, and of course can inform the development of more effective mitigation strategies.

  • Impact of anthropogenic factors on animal behaviour and welfare
  • Complex decision making in animals
  • Animal cognition
Full publications list on CRO

Recent Publications

  • Shamsi, S., Fahey, H. L., Rast, L., & Freire, R. (2023). Is Toxoplasma gondii infection related to spatial problem solving and fear response in sheep? Applied Animal Behaviour Science. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2023.105933
  • Lazado, C. C., Espmark, A. M., & Freire, R. (2022). Editorial: Biology meets technology: Aquatic animals in novel and new aquaculture production systems. Frontiers in Animal Science, 3, 1-4. [1021226]. https://doi.org/10.3389/fanim.2022.1021226
  • Henshall, C., Randle, H., Francis, N., & Freire, R. (2022). Habit formation and the effect of chronic stress on cognitive flexibility learning in horses. Animals, 12(20), 1-22. [2818]. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12202818
  • Freire, R., Rogers, L., Creece, D., & Shamsi, S. (2022). Neophobic behavioural responses of parasitised fish to a potential predator and baited hook. Applied Animal Ethology, 254, [105722]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2022.105722
  • Freire, R., Massaro, M., McDonald, S., Trathan, P., & Nicol, C. (2021). A citizen science trial to assess perception of wild penguin welfare. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 8, 1-13. [698685]. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2021.698685