Tame animal

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In public parks, some wild animals have been sufficiently tamed so as to lose their natural fear of humans.
A tame mouse runs across a woman's hand.

A tame animal is an animal that is relatively tolerant of human presence. Tameness is the quality of an animal being welcoming towards the presence of humans, either naturally (as in the case, for example, of island tameness) or due to human intervention (as the result of animal training).

Taming is the deliberate, human-directed process of training an animal against its initially wild or natural instincts to avoid (or attack) humans, so that it instead learns to become tolerant of humans. The tameability of an animal is the level of ease it takes humans to train the animal. Tameability may vary among individual animals, breeds, or species.[1]

In other languages, such as Spanish, the word for taming is the same as the word for domestication. However, in the English language, the two words refer to two partially overlapping but distinct concepts.[2] For example feral animals are domesticated, but not tamed. Similarly, taming is not the same as animal training, although in some contexts these terms may be used interchangeably.

"Taming" is also distinct from the use of "habituation" in the field of wildlife biology, as in discussions of how habituation makes bears and other large animals more dangerous.[3]

Taming implies that the animal tolerates not merely human proximity, but at minimum human touching.[4] Yet, more common usage limits the label "tame" to animals that subordinate themselves to humans sufficiently that they do not threaten, much less injure, humans who do not harm them or their companions (e.g., offspring or siblings), or at least who threaten to do so. Tameness, in this sense, should be distinguished from "socialization" wherein the animals treat humans much like conspecifics, for instance by trying to dominate humans.[5]

Taming versus domestication[edit]

Domestication should not be confused with taming. Taming is the conditioned behavioral modification of a wild-born animal when its natural avoidance of humans is reduced and it accepts the presence of humans, but domestication is the permanent genetic modification of a bred lineage that leads to an inherited predisposition toward humans.[1][6][7] Human selection included tameness, but domestication is not achieved without a suitable evolutionary response.[8] Domestic animals need not be tame in the behavioral sense, such as the Spanish fighting bull[clarification needed]. Wild animals can be tame, such as a hand-raised cheetah. A domestic animal's breeding is controlled by humans and its tameness and tolerance of humans is genetically determined. Thus, an animal bred in captivity is not necessarily domesticated; tigers, gorillas, and polar bears breed readily in captivity but are not domesticated.[6] Asian elephants are wild animals that with taming manifest outward signs of domestication, yet their breeding is not human controlled and thus they are not true domesticates.[9][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Price, E (2008). "Principles and applications of domestic animal behavior: an introductory text". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  2. ^ "Domestication: the decline of environmental appreciation - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
  3. ^ See, e.g., Herrero et al. 2005, Smith et al. 2005, Geist 2011a,b, Stringham 2010, 2011, Rogers & Mansfield 2011
  4. ^ See, e.g., Geist 2011a,b.
  5. ^ For examples with mountain sheep Ovis spp., see Geist 2011a,b.
  6. ^ a b c Driscoll, C. A.; MacDonald, D. W.; O'Brien, S. J. (2009). "From wild animals to domestic pets, an evolutionary view of domestication". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 106: 9971–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.0901586106. PMC 2702791. PMID 19528637.
  7. ^ Diamond, J (2012). "1". In Gepts, P (ed.). Biodiversity in Agriculture: Domestication, Evolution, and Sustainability. Cambridge University Press. p. 13.
  8. ^ Larson, G (2014). "The Evolution of Animal Domestication" (PDF). Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. 45: 115–36. doi:10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-110512-135813.
  9. ^ Lair RC (1997) Gone Astray: The Care and Management of the Asian Elephant in Domesticity (Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand


  • Geist, V (2011a). "Wildlife habituation: advances in understanding and management application". Human–Wildlife Interactions. 5: 9–12.
  • Geist, V (2011b). "Response to Rogers and Mansfield (2011) and Stringham (2011)". Human–Wildlife Interactions. 5 (2): 192–196.
  • Herrero, S.; Smith, T.; DeBruyn, T.; Gunther, K.; Matt, C. (2005). "From the field: Brown bear habituation to people – safety, risks, and benefits". Wildlife Society Bulletin. 33 (1): 362–373. doi:10.2193/0091-7648(2005)33[362:ftfbbh]2.0.co;2.
  • Rogers, L. L.; Mansfield, S. A. (2011). "Misconceptions about black bears: a response to Geist (2011)". Human–Wildlife Interactions. 5 (2): 173–176.
  • Smith, T.; Herrero, S.; DeBruyn, T.; et al. (2005). "Alaskan brown bears, humans, and habituation". Ursus. 16 (1): 1–10. doi:10.2192/1537-6176(2005)016[0001:abbhah]2.0.co;2.
  • Stringham, S. F. 2010. When Bears Whisper, Do You Listen? WildWatch, Soldotna, AK.
  • Stringham, S. F (2011). "ikikAggressive body language of bears and wildlife viewing: a response to Geist (2011)". Human-wildlife Interactions. 5 (2): 177–191.