A tame animal is an animal which has been behaviorally or otherwise altered from its wild or natural state—in particular, trained to be more tolerant of human presence. Tameness is a degree to which an animal accepts humans. An animal may be naturally tame, as., e.g., in the case of island tameness, or became tame as a result of deliberate taming, a process during which an initial tendency to avoid humans diminished to a varying degree. The tameability of an animal is the level of difficulty of taming an animal. Tameability may vary among individual animals, breeds, or species.
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) distinct concepts. For example feral animals are domestic, but not tamed.
Similarly, taming is not the same as animal training, although in some contexts these terms may be used interchangeably.
Note that above definition of "taming" coincides with the use of "habituation" in the field of wildlife biology, as in discussions of how habituation makes bears and other large animals more dangerous <e.g., Herrero et al. 2005, Smith et al. 2005, Geist 2011a,b, Stringham 2010, 2011, Rogers & Mansfield 2011>.
By contrast, taming implies that the animal tolerates not merely human proximity, but at minimum human touching <e.g., Geist 2011a,b>. 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 (for examples with mountain sheep Ovis spp., see <Geist 2011a,b>).
- "Principles and applications of domestic animal behavior: an introductory text - Edward O. Price - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
- "Domestication: the decline of environmental appreciation - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
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., T. Smith, T. DeBruyn, K. Gunther & C. Matt. 2005. From the field: Brown bear habituation to people – safety, risks, and benefits. Wildlife Society Bulletin 33(1):362-373.
Rogers, L. L. & S. A. Mansfield. 2011. Misconceptions about black bears: a response to Geist (2011). Human–Wildlife Interactions 5(2):173–176.
Smith, T., S. Herrero, & T. DeBruyn et al. 2005. Alaskan brown bears, humans, and habituation. Ursus 16(1):1-10.
Stringham, S. F. 2010. When Bears Whisper, Do You Listen? WildWatch, Soldotna, AK.
Stringham, S. F 2011. Aggressive body language of bears and wildlife viewing: a response to Geist (2011). Human-wildlife Interactions 5(2):177-191.