Tourism and animal welfare: a 21st century dilemma

There is a strong link between tourism and animals, whether in zoos, marine parks, or on safari. Tourists encounter animals in many different situations: photo opportunities, street performances, animal rides and specialised ‘sanctuaries’ such as elephant homes and tiger temples. Tourism may benefit wildlife, by funding wildlife animal conservation, as well as providing vital income for local communities, but the exploitation of animals in animal entertainment can be a cruel and degrading experience for intelligent sentient creatures.

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Tourists encounter animals in many different situations

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Assessing Animal Welfare

By Stephen Blakeway

As a tourist how can we assess whether the animals we see have good welfare, and ideally, ‘a good life’?

Recently, I’ve been a tourist in Mexico and Jordan, and, having contributed to ‘Tourism and Animal Welfare’, I took the opportunity to think more about this question. As my interests are animals and their relationships to us, each other, and their environment, I spent a lot of time observing.

In Petra in Jordan when I was visiting, I accidentally came too close to a dog who was asleep by a donkey among a group of other donkeys, and he jumped up and went berserk at me. I quickly moved back while the donkey placated him by rubbing his head against the dog’s flanks and neck. The dog, leaning into his companion in apparent ecstasy, licked the donkey’s nose and settled back down to sleep again.

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In Petra, Jordan, a donkey placates his canine friend who has just woken with a fright. Photo taken by the author.

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Local Travel Means Sustainable Travel

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The Spirit Bear in the Great Bear Rainforest, Canada. Picture courtesy of Sarah Zito.

How I Spent my Summer Vacation: Hunting for Bears in my Backyard

By Sara Dubois

How does an animal welfare scientist and wildlife biologist spend their annual vacation? Well as I have been working in this field for almost 20 years now, these days I spend most of my time behind a computer, in team meetings, and travelling to yet more meetings. Which means getting back out in nature is the first choice for my time off. The ultimate destination is generally motivated by what kind of interesting animals I will see when I get there, and moderate temperatures that won’t melt this ginger scientist.

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‘One Welfare’ complements ‘One Health’

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Image: Leroy Skalstad, Pixabay.com

One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health Day on November 3rd 2016

While ‘One Health’ is a well-established concept, a new term ‘One Welfare’ is also emerging, extending the One Health theme beyond physical health and recognising that animal welfare and human wellbeing are intrinsically connected. In an article in the Veterinary Record, Rebeca García Pinillos and other One Welfare advocates introduce this concept for debate, with an aim to “improve animal welfare and human wellbeing worldwide.”

A One Welfare approach will help to empower the animal welfare field to address the connections between science and policy more effectively in various areas of human society, including environmental science and sustainability, the authors say. “It could also help promote key global objectives such as supporting food security, reducing human suffering (e.g., abuse of vulnerable people) and improving productivity within the farming sector through a better understanding of the value of high welfare standards.”

While One Health initiatives have tended to focus on threats to human and animal health, particularly zoonoses, there is a growing body of research into the mental and physical health benefits of the human-animal bond. In addition, because poor animal welfare can often act as an indicator of poor human welfare (and vice versa), there is a need to understand the psychosocial impacts of human-animal interactions.

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Animal machines: 50 years on

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A symposium organized by CABI and the Royal Veterinary College to mark the 50th anniversary of Animal Machines, by Ruth Harrison, reviewed how far we have come in understanding and improving animal welfare since the publication of the book, which marked the start of the movement for welfare of animals in intensive production.

“Would Ruth be pleased with the progress that has been made so far?” asked the panel of international experts on animal welfare, ethics and sustainability. The general consensus of opinion was that there are many things she would be pleased about (e.g. EU-wide bans on veal crates, sow stalls and barren battery cages), but she would be disappointed with the slow speed at which improvements are being made, particularly in countries outside the EU. However, it was suggested that she would be ‘delighted’ by the thought-provoking discussions that took place during the symposium, which highlighted important questions that remain to be addressed.

 

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Invisible helpers: working equine animals provide vital support to women in developing countries

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A report launched this month by the animal welfare organisation the Brooke highlights the extent to which women in developing countries rely on donkeys and other working equids. The report, Invisible Helpers, calls for greater recognition of the role of working equine animals in supporting women and their families, and emphasizes the importance of looking after the health and welfare of these valuable animals.

 In 2013, The Brooke initiated the Voices from Women research project to explore the role of working horses, mules and donkeys in supporting the lives of women from the perspectives of the women themselves. The Invisible Helpers report is based on discussions with focus groups and individuals in Ethiopia, Kenya, India and Pakistan.

It found that working equine animals help to lessen the burden on women’s lives, providing a ‘support system’. Over three quarters of the groups (77%), including all of those in Kenya and India, ranked donkeys, horses and mules as the most important of all their livestock. They generate income, help with household chores, give women an increased social status and help women collect food and water for other livestock.

If these animals are sick or die, the impact can be devastating on women and their families. As one of the study participants said, “It is a pain to live a single day without a donkey. That is because donkeys are the base for our life. So if we lose our donkey, we will buy another one by selling one of our calves, goats, sheep or even a heifer.” (Urgo Yassin, Gedeba, Ethiopia).

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Reconciling Modern Animal Production Systems and Sustainability

By M Djuric, DVM

A consortium of 22 research partners from 11 countries has received a £10.6m grant from the European Union (EU) to improve pig and poultry production. This is the largest EU grant awarded in this field. The project aims at investigating ways to increase animal production quality, whilst limiting environmental impact and preserving profitability for the farming and animal food production sectors.

Pig-dThe research will be carried out by the Prohealth consortium, consisting of 10 academic partners, one European association, four industry partners, and seven small and medium-sized enterprises. The consortium has expertise in animal physiology and immunology, genetics and nutrition, veterinary science and epidemiology, socioeconomics, as well as welfare and production science of pigs and poultry. The consortium members come from Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and UK. The project was launched in Newcastle upon Tyne on 17 December and  will be co-ordinated by Newcastle University.

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