Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Raising the issue of live animal use in veterinary education to a global scale

This month saw our welfare veterinary nurse, Hayley Walters, attend her second BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association) International Affairs Committee meeting. Held in Birmingham three times a year, Hayley is the first veterinary nurse to sit on the committee. The International Affairs Committee is responsible for links within the Union of European Veterinary Practitioners (UEVP) and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) as well as liaising with the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Association (FECAVA) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) This committee allows BSAVA to identify and influence matters of importance to the small animal veterinary surgeon in Europe and further afield.
Sheep used for suturing practise at a vet school in China

JMICAWE’s Heather Bacon teaching suturing on a suture board
Hayley presented a report written by herself and colleague Heather Bacon, highlighting the use of live animals in veterinary education in vet schools in developing countries and how this is not only harmful to the animals used for clinical and surgical skills practise but also detrimental to the quality of education that the student receives. Veterinary students often feel conflicted when faced with having to perform unnecessary surgery on an animal in the name of their education. The report also highlighted research carried out showing that veterinary students lose empathy for animals as they progress through vet school and objectifying animals is necessary for them to be able to continue with their practical training. Vets have to be ambassadors for animal welfare so it is of the utmost importance that they leave vet school compassionate, empathetic and dedicated to improving the lives of the animals under their care.

Everyone attending the meeting agreed that countries still teaching students in this manner needed to align with international standards of education and a unanimous decision was made to present the report to BSAVA’s scientific committee. Once the report has been approved it will receive BSAVA’s full endorsement and ultimately be sent to WSAVA. WSAVA is a global veterinary community set up to facilitate the exchange of scientific information between individual veterinarians and veterinary organisations all over the world.

JMICAWE made several recommendations in the report, including how to phase out the harmful use of live animals in veterinary education, and it is hoped that with WSAVA’s endorsement to its worldwide contacts, more vet schools will look to make the change.


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Animal Welfare Day 8th October in Edinburgh

Scientists from Scotland’s Rural College are inviting secondary school children from across Scotland to join them for a virtual discussion on how best to care for our animals. The animal welfare experts will be online on Friday 2 October at 1pm and school classes can join them by using Google+ Hangout or through YouTube.
Hangout organiser Dr Jill MacKay explains: “Animal welfare is now a part of the higher biology curriculum so this is a great chance for students to discuss the key issues such as disease, hunger and distress with scientists at the forefront of animal welfare research. Students can email or tweet questions in advance and then watch our researchers answer them on a live feed.”
The event has been organised to celebrate 50 years since a significant report on livestock welfare which highlighted need for scientific methods of assessing animal welfare and called for better more consistent care. As the report is a foundation stone of modern day animal welfare research, the scientists will also discuss the journey from that publication to modern day animal welfare science and what lies in store in the years ahead.
Students or teachers who want to join the hang out or find out more should email They can also send her questions for the scientists or tweet them to @SRUCResearch using the #Freedoms50 hashtag.
G+ Event Page:
YouTube Direct Link:


Friday, 18 September 2015

Edinburgh Animal Welfare Students Shine at Behaviour and Welfare Conference in Japan

It's always good to see former students flying the best and contributing so positively to their field.  This week we bumped into several at the ISAE 2015 Conference in Japan!

Jessica Lampe, former Masters applied animal behaviour and welfare presenting her poster at ISAE 2015 Japan 

This week in Hokkaido we saw a number of ex Edinburgh Masters students presenting their animal welfare work to a big International audience. Some examples were: Dr Jenna Kiddie talked on Enrichment needs for long term kennelled rescue dogs in the Philippines, Dr Poppy Statham described her work on positive emotions in pigs, Dr Maria Diez Leon discussed the issues for mink in farms, Dr Jo Edgar spoke of chick stress responses, Dr Jessica Lampe showed us her work on enhancing Lab rat welfare through positive handling, Dr Simon Turner explained how breeding may help reduced pig aggression and Dr Yoshie Kakuma of Japan and her students presented their work on improving pet welfare in Japan. 

We are really proud of the part we played in the early careers of these researchers, who are contributing to evidence based animal welfare improvements all over the world and on a wide range of species! 


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Virtual Animal Welfare Discussion between Edinburgh and 8 Asian Country representatives

This week, JMICAWE Director, Prof Nat Waran, took part in a live online discussion with animal welfare lecturers working in various parts of Asia, who were attending a workshop hosted by the World Animal Protection.

The 4 day annual workshop held in Bangkok, brought together key drivers for animal welfare education, from veterinary schools in a range of countries, including; Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China and Taiwan. Using Skype, Prof Nat was able to pose a question related to the importance of using good evidence for underpinning effective animal welfare policy and legislation, and to consider how effective this would be for tackling an animal welfare concern relevant to the key driver's own country. The key drivers raised some interesting points, such as: the difficulties with separating ethical concerns from evidence based arguments and how public opinion led legislation may not always be best for animal welfare; the problem with having legislation that cannot be enforced and the concern that evidence from studies in other parts of the world addressing the needs of a species, is often disregarded in favour of more research being needed 'in country'. All issues that are relevant to others working towards changes to benefit animals.

Prof Nat Waran said 'It was really good to be able to interact with colleagues from different parts of the world to share ideas, knowledge and concerns, and to work towards an improved understanding of how we can mainstream animal welfare for education as well as for underpinning sound policy and practice'. With the use of modern technology, we can look forward to many more of these sorts productive interactions with colleagues all over the world'.


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

EU Zoos Directive – Good Practices Document published


The EU zoos directive was developed in 1999 to define what constitutes a zoo, and to emphasise the role of the zoo in conservation of biodiversity.

Image taken from EU Zoo Directive

A zoo was defined as “all permanent establishments where animals of wild species are kept for exhibition to the public for 7 or more days a year, with the exception of circuses, pet shops and establishments which Member States exempt from the requirements of this Directive on the grounds that they do not exhibit a significant number of animals or species to the public”

However no EU-wide legislation or directive currently exists to safeguard the welfare of zoo animals. To date, member state legislation has had only the guidance from Article 3 of the directive to guide their responsibilities to safeguarding animal health and welfare: “accommodating their animals under conditions which aim to satisfy the biological and conservation requirements of the individual species, inter alia, by providing species specific enrichment of the enclosures; and maintaining a high standard of animal husbandry with a developed programme of preventive and curative veterinary care and nutrition

The problem with this phrasing is that neither conservation, nor biological requirements of zoo species are defined, and no guidance is given as to what constitutes a high standard of animal husbandry, so the spectrum of husbandry actually delivered can be very variable.

To address these gaps, the EU Commission recently commissioned the production of a guidance document to standardise interpretation of the EU zoos directive. The welfare section of this document was primarily constructed by Leonor Galhardo, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh’s MSc Applied Animal behaviour and welfare programme, in partnership with Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE.

Zoo animal welfare is an exciting and rapidly developing field of research and practice” said Heather, “positive engagement with the zoo community is essential, not only for to deliver effective guidance on improving zoo animal welfare, but also, for helping us to understand the challenges faced by the zoo community


The Good Practice document can be download at:

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Jeanne Marchig Animal Behaviour and Welfare MOOC - Always Online


We have some exciting news about our Animal Behaviour and Welfare MOOC on Coursera.

Coursera have started to offer On-Demand courses, where the material is always available and students can sign up at any time. The University of Edinburgh’s EdiVet course is already offered in the On-Demand format, so if you haven’t explored that course yet, you no longer have to wait for a session to be run.
The Jeanne Marchig team has been working hard behind the scenes to convert Animal Behaviour and Welfare to the On-Demand version, and we will launch the course on the 12th October, 2015!

What does this mean for you?

The Animal Behaviour and Welfare materials will always be available to students of the On-Demand course.
Students will be able to sign up at any time and complete the course in their own time.
Statements of Achievement (free) and Course Certificates (paid) will still be available for students who complete the course.
We’re really excited about this development and the innovations Coursera are bringing to the MOOC format.
You can’t sign up to the course until it goes live, so remember to follow us @JMICAWE, follow our blog, and put a note in your diary to come to the course on the 12th October!
You can still use the #EdAniWelf  hashtag to tell us what you think about the new On-Demand system.
And just for our blog readers we have a behind the scenes preview of what the On-Demand course will look like:

The Animal Behaviour and Welfare Front Page
The New Course Introduction
New Video Format