My whole life I have been interested in animals and always wondered what they were thinking. How far their emotional and cognitive capacities would reach and compare to us humans. I have always believed that we should strive to know more about the mental lives of animals and utilize this to improve their welfare. With the housing and ownership of animals comes the responsibility to provide an environment which allows the animal to express natural behaviors such as foraging, grooming, playing etc. I personally strive to improve the welfare of animals by gaining more knowledge about their mental lives and use this to inform the public and provide a suitable living environment.
After my graduation, I joined Mariska’s research team and assisted in a project involving emotion perception in bonobos in de Apenheul. The project required me to train the bonobos to be able to carry out the emotional dot-probe task. I learned the basics of animal training through my masters, however, I had never done something like this before where I trained with primates and with multiple individuals at the same time. After a rocky start and taking in some advice from professional trainers and the caretakers, I learned how to train the group of bonobos and became more confident and experienced as time went on. Recently, I am in involved in two projects on social cognition in dogs, which is in collaboration with Dr. Annemie Ploeger and Dr. Mariska Kret.