Holst, M. M., Miller-Morgan, T. 2021. The use of a species-specific health and welfare assessment tool for the giant Pacific octopus, Enteroctopus dofleini, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 24(3), 272-291.
Cephalopods are increasingly viewed as sentient animals that require the same welfare consideration as their vertebrate counterparts. In this study, an observational welfare assessment tool developed by the EU Directive was revised to be species-specific for the giant Pacific octopus, Enteroctopus dofleini. This E. dofleini health and welfare assessment tool includes categories assessing E. dofleini external appearance, behavior, and clinical signs of stress and disease. These categories are scored in severity from 1 to 4, allowing a quantitative perspective on health observations. Six facilities used the health and welfare assessment tool to evaluate E. dofleini until the animal was humanely euthanized or died naturally. Results showed an irreversible upward trend in scores for feeding behavior and response to stimulus beginning 4 weeks prior to death, with significant changes in health and welfare scores between 4 weeks and the final week prior to death. This suggests that upward trends in these two variables predict death within 3–4 weeks. Highly variable results between individuals for other categories indicate that a quantitative tool can help assess health and welfare at the individual level.