Pigs can be pessimists, University of Lincoln tests find

Pigs have personalities and can be pessimists or optimists, much like humans, new research has suggested.

Pig 628x363

Scientists at the University of Lincoln tested 36 animals, offering them bowls containing chocolate or less appealing coffee beans in two fixed locations.

Pigs were considered optimists if they investigated a third bowl, placed in the middle of the two bowls, even though it might not contain treats.

Dr Lisa Collins said it suggested the judgment of pigs was similar to humans.

The research, which has been published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, saw some pigs treated to improved living conditions with more living space and extra-deep layers of straw.

The other animals, with less space and no straw, tended to be negative and pessimistic, the research suggested.

They were, however, found to have been cheered up by an improvement in their living conditions.

Dr Collins, from the University of Lincoln, and colleagues wrote: “Reactive pigs in the less enriched environment were more pessimistic and those in the more enriched environment more optimistic.

“These results suggest that judgment in non-human animals is similar to humans, incorporating aspects of stable personality traits and more transient mood states.”

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37996361


APHA signs Concordat on Openness on Animal Research

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has joined over 90 organisations including universities, charities, commercial companies and research councils, by signing the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research.

The objective of the Concordat, which is supported by Professor Sir Mark Walport, the government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, is to increase awareness and understanding among the general public about the use of animals in science where no alternatives exist.


APHA’s science is aimed at protecting Great Britain from the threat and impact of a wide variety of animal and wildlife diseases and issues including bovine TB, food-borne bacteria and antimicrobial resistance, many of which can also affect humans. This work provides scientific evidence that supports policy development for the government, European Union and internationally.

Signatories to the Concordat undertake to fulfil 4 commitments:

  1. We will be clear about when, how and why we use animals in research
  2. We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals
  3. We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals
  4. We will report on progress annually and share our experiences.

APHA’s main areas of research include:

  • bovine TB and development of vaccines and diagnostic tests for badgers and cattle
  • bacterial diseases and food safety, including food-borne bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and Escherichia coli and bacterial pathogens such as Brucella and Mycoplasma
  • viral diseases including avian and mammalian viruses such as Newcastle disease, influenza and classical swine fever, zoonotic and wildlife viruses such as rabies and vector-borne diseases
  • transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs)
  • wildlife management including wildlife diseases, human-wildlife conflicts and studies of welfare and behaviour.

Article taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/apha-signs-concordat-on-openness-on-animal-research


UK animal experiment count ‘falls’

The Home Office’s annual statistics show a 6% drop in animal experiments in the UK – but the office has changed the way it collects these figures.


An EU directive has been adopted that means tests are counted when they conclude, instead of when they begin, making comparisons difficult.

But Home Office staff are “confident” that animal use has, indeed, fallen.

As usual, 50% of the 3.87 million total “procedures” were GM animals, which were created but not used in tests.

That overall figure compares to 4.12 million in 2013. But the Home Office’s chief statistician David Blunt emphasised that there was a “discontinuity” between those two figures.

“This means that any comparisons made between 2014 and earlier should be made with caution,” Mr Blunt told journalists at a briefing on Thursday.

“The 6% fall is what the data’s got, but maybe it’s not quite as big as that. But I’m still confident that there’s a fall; it may be 3 or 4% or something like that.”

Lord Bates, a Home Office minister, said he was “encouraged” to see the number of procedures apparently falling.

“Today’s figures indicate the science community continues to respond to the government’s firm commitment to adopting measures to replace, reduce and refine animal use,” he declared in a written statement.

But the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) condemned the number of “severe” animal experiments taking place.

Jan Creamer, president of NAVS, said: “The level of suffering animals are experiencing in Britain’s laboratories is shameful.”

She added: “There is an urgent need for greater transparency and accountability in animal research, so these extreme tests can be reviewed and replaced with advanced non-animal methods.”

The Home Office sees its collection of “severity” data as a big step forward in terms of transparency. This is the first set of statistics to categorise animal usage into “sub-threshold” (28% in 2014), “non-recovery” (3%), “mild” (49%), “moderate” (14%) and “severe” (5%).

“We wanted to see how best we could inform the public of what goes on, so that there’s a clear understanding of what’s involved in the process of experimentation,” said Prof Dominic Wells, from the Royal Veterinary College, who was part of the working group which drew up this classification.
“Each individual animal is assessed as to the worst pain, suffering or distress that happened. That can be either the single worst event, or a cumulative series of events that on their own are not particularly substantial, but when added together increase the severity.”

Animal rights group Peta was unconvinced, describing the severity system as “absurd” and accusing experimenters and regulators of “a complete lack of compassion”.

Also on Thursday, the Home Office confirmed that a new ban on animal testing of household products, announced in March, will come into effect on 1 November.

This policy forbids any testing of “finished” household products – a practice that has already largely ended in the UK – and places restrictions on testing of individual ingredients. Such tests, in the latest 2014 statistics, affected 138 animals.

Peta said the ban was “a baby step in the right direction”.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34602962


Cells from Edinburgh Zoo’s giant pandas to be used for research into deadly diseases

Cells taken from the mouths of the UK’s only giant pandas could be used for research into some of the deadly diseases which threaten the species.

Scientists have produced stem cells from swabs which can be used in research into potential vaccines.

Cells have been taken from the cheeks of Tian Tian and Yang Guang, who live at Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) Edinburgh Zoo .

Iain Valentine, director of giant pandas for the RZSS, said: “This week a scientific paper was published regarding a stem cell production project with a number of other prestigious organisations.

“Basically stem cells have been produced from swabs. Why is this important? Because it gives conservationists another method of bio-banking genetic resource other than sperm or eggs.

“Cell lines, created from easily collectable samples like cheek swabs, help with research into some of the deadly diseases that pandas are susceptible to – such as distemper, parvovirus and retrovirus.

“Cell lines allow us to test potential vaccines without having to involve the animals themselves and they can also be used for tissue repair.

“Importantly, this has nothing to do with cloning, although some key figures involved in the cloning of Dolly the sheep are sharing their expertise as part of the project.”

Mr Valentine said RZSS is currently facilitating 40 giant panda-related projects around the world.

The research work stems from the giant panda research symposium held in Edinburgh in 2013, when RZSS gathered over 60 experts from around the world to help develop a five-year research plan for giant pandas.

Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) are the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years.

The animals arrived on loan from China in December 2011.

Tian Tian was artificially inseminated for the third time earlier this year and vets said she conceived but did not know for definite if she was pregnant.

However, in August the zoo said the pregnancy window had passed and that she would not give birth to a cub this year.

The zoo said it is believed Tian Tian “resorbed her pregnancy in late term”, as is common among giant pandas.

Article taken from: http://www.scotlandnow.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/cells-edinburgh-zoos-giant-pandas-6578220


Call of the rewild: new charity wants to see nature bounce back

A new charity has been launched to transform Britain by hepling it return to a wild state.

Rewilding Britain, the first organisation of its kind, wants to bring back missing species, allow native forests to grow once more on the hills, let rivers run wild and help the sea recover from industrial fishing.

It will seek to restore species that used to live here but have since become extinct or very rare.

These include beavers, wild boar, bison, cranes, pelicans, sturgeon, bluefin tuna, lynx and eventually wolves, grey whales, humpbacks and sperm whales.

Rewilding Britain hopes to establish at least three core areas of rewilded land by 2030, which means, in each case, 100,000 hectares or more.

Rebecca Wrigley, programme manager for Rewilding Britain, said: “An important part of our work will be to inspire and inform, and build a wider movement for rewilding. Rewilding projects on the ground will be locally owned and locally run. Our new website features a selection of fantastic rewilding projects that are already up and running across Britain.

“We hope we can gather a groundswell of support. We want to amplify the message that some pioneers have been putting out for decades, and attract new support. Rewilding is really for everyone who cares about our future. Our ecosystems need us.”

Rewilding Britain was inspired by environmentalist George Monbiot’s book Feral: rewilding the land, sea and human life. Organisers say this tapped into a hitherto-unnoticed public desire for change. Monbiot will be a key supporter of the organisation.

He said: “The overwhelmingly positive response to Feral was quite unexpected. It seems the book put into words what many people were thinking and longing for. I am thrilled that it has led to the formation of Rewilding Britain.

“The changes we’re calling for would be considered unexceptional almost anywhere else in Europe, where in many countries populations of beavers, boar, lynx and wolves are already recovering rapidly.

“So far the public appetite for change here has had few outlets. We want to change that, and to restore the living world and our relationship with it.”

Rewilding Britain has been founded with the support of key organisations such as Friends of the Earth, the Forestry Commission, Trees for Life, John Muir Trust, Cairngorms National Park, the National Trust and The Ecology Trust among others.

Scotland has been the site of several reintroduction projects, going back to the 1970s with a pioneering, and ultimately successful, programme to release white-tailed eagles on Rhum.

A later scheme involving red kites has also been successful and there are on-going trials involving beaver and lynx.

Below are some of the species which could return to the UK:


Dalmatian pelican

Call of the rewild: new charity wants to see nature bounce back

Rewilding Britain has listed pelicans as one of the animals it would like to see returned, presumably referring to huge Dalmatian pelicans which, from archaeological evidence, are known to have bred until the Iron Age. It now breeds no closer than south east Europe, and there are only around 10,000 to 20,000 birds left in the wild.

Atlantic sturgeon

Call of the rewild: new charity wants to see nature bounce back

This species of sturgeon, which can grow up to 11 feet, once travelled up rivers throughout Britain, but it is believed to be effectively extinct as a UK animal, with pollution and over-fishing being the prime cuplrits. It was prized for the table in medieval times and is classified as a royal fish, which becomes a crown possession when caught.


Call of the rewild: new charity wants to see nature bounce back

The burbot is the only freshwater member of the cod family and was once found in river systems in England. It is thought pollution caused their decline, with the last recorded specimen being taken in 1969 in the Great Ouse, Cambridgeshire. An angling magazine put up a reward for any further catches – but it is still unclaimed.

Humpback whale

Call of the rewild: new charity wants to see nature bounce back

Rewilding Britain lists the mighty humpback as one of the species it would like to see back in the UK. While a reintroduction of these massive mammals would be technically impossible, it could return of its own accord if its populations recover from hunting and if our seas are cleaned up sufficiently to support its prey food. Perhaps it’s a good omen that one was seen in Auchalick Bay at Loch Fyne last week!

Article taken from: http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/tfn-news/


Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee backs a new report which describes animal experiments as morally ‘unthinkable’

More than a hundred and fifty academics, intellectuals, and writers, including Nobel Laureate J. M. Coetzee, have backed a new report calling for the de-normalisation of animal experimentation.  Titled ‘Normalising the Unthinkable’, the report is the result of a working party of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

Other signatories to the report include the Rt Revd John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford, Professor Keith Ward of Oxford University, Professor Stanley Hauerwas of Duke Divinity School, and Professor Conor Gearty of the London School of Economics.

The report finds that ‘The deliberate and routine abuse of innocent, sentient animals involving harm, pain, suffering, stressful confinement, manipulation, trade, and death should be unthinkable. Yet animal experimentation is just that: the ‘normalisation of the unthinkable’.  ‘It is estimated that 115.3 million animals are used in experiments worldwide per annum. In terms of harm, pain, suffering, and death, this constitutes one of the major moral issues of our time.’

Comprised of 20 leading ethicists and scientists, the working party concluded that animal experiments are both morally and scientifically flawed. The report of more than 50,000 words is probably the most comprehensive critique of animal experiments ever published.

Commissioned by the BUAV and Cruelty Free International as an independent ethical review, members of the working party are keen to point out that the BUAV in no way influenced its conclusions.

‘The moral arguments in favour of animal testing really don’t hold water’ says Professor Andrew Linzey, co-editor of the report and a theologian at Oxford University.  ‘We have looked at the central arguments in official reports and found them wanting.  If any of them were morally valid, they would also justify experiments on human beings.’

The report concludes that the ‘normalisation’ of animal experiments:

  • flies in the face of what is now known about the extent and range of how animals can be harmed. The issue of the complexity of animal awareness, especially animal sentience (the capacity to experience pain and pleasure), cannot be ignored. Unlike our forebears, we now know, as reasonably as we can know of humans, that animals (notably, mammals, birds, and reptiles) experience not only pain, but also shock, fear, foreboding, trauma, anxiety, stress, distress, anticipation, and terror.
  • is based on the discredited idea that animals are just tools for human use, means to human ends, fungible items, and commodities who can be treated and dispensed with as humans think fit.
  • is challenged by new moral thinking which holds that sentient beings are not just things, objects, machines, or tools, but have value in themselves and deserve respect.
  • is augmented by a range of regulations and controls, which in reality do very little to protect animals and indeed often do the reverse.
  • is justified by the oft-repeated assertion that human interest requires such experiments, whereas it has to be questioned whether humans are ever benefited by the abuse of animals.

BUAV and Cruelty Free International CEO, Michelle Thew, said: We greatly welcome this new report, which should spur on new ethical thinking about animals and question some of the lazy assumptions about how animal research benefits humans. This independent report is a milestone in ethical thinking about animals and puts the ethics of animal research back on the agenda.’

Academics are invited to debate the report at a special Summer School on the Ethics of Using Animals in Research at Oxford on 26-29 July 2015.

[Editor’s note:] In 2012, over 200,000 animals were killed in experiments by Oxford University.

Article taken from: http://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/en/a/Nobel-laureate-JM-Coetzee-backs-a-new-report-which-describes-animal-experiments-as-morally-unthinkable



Ban will end testing of household products on animals

Testing of household products on animals will be banned, Crime Prevention Minister Lynne Featherstone has announced.

The ban is the result of a commitment made by the coalition government in 2010 to end such testing and forms part of ongoing work to safeguard animal welfare and advance the use of the 3Rs (replacement, refinement and reduction) in research and development.


Today’s announcement follows extensive consultation and includes a new definition of what is meant by household products and their ingredients.

Ban comes into force in October

The ban, scheduled to come into effect in October, will cover all finished products – including detergents, polishes and cleaning products, laundry products, air fresheners, deodorants, paints and other decorating materials.

It will also apply to any chemical, when more than half of it is expected to be used as an ingredient in household products. Testing of such ingredients on animals will be banned unless there is a legal requirement or an exceptional justification can be made in advance.

Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone said:

The UK has one of the most comprehensive animal welfare systems in the world to ensure animal testing is carried out humanely and only when necessary.

The ban on the testing of household products and ingredients on animals demonstrates our continuing commitment to safeguard animal welfare and advance the use of the 3Rs principles in research and development.

It will also help to ensure the UK stays at the forefront of global work to find and use alternatives to animal testing.

In order to minimise the regulatory burden on industry, the ban will be implemented through amendments to conditions on project licences issued under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

To ensure smooth implementation of the ban, the Government are working with the research and development industry to develop a new guidance, notification and application system.

Government reforms on animal testing

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of reforms introduced by this government to enhance openness and transparency about the use of animals in scientific research, with the aim of improving public understanding of this work.

Last February, the Home Office, along with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health, launched a delivery plan to support work to reduce the use of animals in research.

Article taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ban-will-end-testing-of-household-products-on-animals