Kristina Kull, MSc.

I have always liked to observe animals and try to understand why they behave in ways they do. I think each animal is an individual with their own experiences, thoughts and needs. This background, synergy of experiences, memories and perceptual worlds, shapes each animal individually. I am very curious if the animals who are kept in captivity do feel good, and what the human caretakers can do, to make them feel better.

During my doctorate in BOKU I will look into time perception and boredom in domestic pigs. I am interested to find out if pigs, just as for example humans and many other animals, are sensitive to the passage of time. We do know that our subjective experience of time does not always match the physical time. For example, when we humans feel bored, time seems to go by more slowly than normally. In other words, time seems to drag. Would pigs feel that too? Could time perception be one of the characteristics of pig boredom? What does the feeling of boredom mean for these animals? And eventually, what can humans who take care of these animals do, to prevent and alleviate boredom in pigs?

I did a MSc in Human-Animal Interactions (University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna), where I worked with kea parrots and looked into their enrichment habituation. My bachelor’s studies were about semiotics and ecology (University of Tartu, Estonia). Additionally, I have had wonderful experiences in creating enrichments for zoo animals (for small primates, dune cats and the kea; in animal parks/zoos in Tallinn, Prague and Vienna). I am a member of an animal welfare organisation and I write articles for general public about welfare of farmed animals (in Estonian). I am happy to have the opportunity to combine my curiosity about animal behaviour, cognition and welfare with the possibility to work with the animals hands-on. For example, by doing basic care-taking activities and by observing or interacting with the animals that I research about – both roles which I enjoy very much!