SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Animals : an open access journal from MDPI

141

In Italy, Law 413/1993 states that public and private Italian Institutions, including academic faculties, are obliged to fully inform workers and students about their right to conscientious objection to scientific or educational activities involving animals, hereafter written as “animal CO”. However, little monitoring on the faculties' compliance with this law has been performed either by the government or other institutional bodies. Based on this premise, the authors have critically reviewed the existing data and compared them with those emerging from their own investigation to discuss limitations and inconsistencies. The results of this investigation revealed that less than half of Italian academic faculties comply with their duty to inform on animal CO. Non-compliance may substantially affect the right of students to make ethical choices in the field of animal ethics and undermines the fundamental right to express their own freedom of thought. The Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, ethics committees and animal welfare bodies should cooperate to make faculties respect this law. Further research is needed to better understand the reasons for the current trend, as well as to promote the enforcement of Law 413/1993 with particular regard to information on animal CO.

Concepts: Law, University, Ethics, Aristotle, Institution, Animal rights, Conscientious objector, Palazzo della Farnesina

137

Concern for livestock welfare is significantly increasing in many parts of the world. One area of concern is the transportation of livestock. Using qualitative research methods, this research explores the concerns of Australian meat consumers related to livestock transportation practices, both on land by truck and on sea by ship. Participants were predominantly concerned about animals being “crammed” into trucks and ships, and the long distances over which livestock were transported. Likely contributors to these reactions are the high visibility of truck transport in urban areas, and recent media and political attention to the live-export issue in Australia. We argue that participants' concerns about transport are arising for a variety of reasons, including anthropomorphic tendencies, genuine concern for the welfare of farm animals, and emotional responses related to the discomfort experienced by meat consumers when they are reminded of the meat-animal connection. Given the importance of transport to the red-meat production industry, these results suggest that the sector may need to reconsider some of their practices and increase transparency and communication about the practices, which they utilise to ensure good animal welfare.

86

The loss of a companion animal is recognised as being associated with experiences of grief by the owner, but it is unclear how other animals in the household may be affected by such a loss. Our aim was to investigate companion animals' behavioural responses to the loss of a companion through owner-report. A questionnaire was distributed via, and advertised within, publications produced by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) across Australia and New Zealand, and through a selection of veterinary clinics within New Zealand. A total of 279 viable surveys were returned pertaining to 159 dogs and 152 cats. The two most common classes of behavioural changes reported for both dogs and cats were affectionate behaviours (74% of dogs and 78% of cats) and territorial behaviours (60% of dogs and 63% of cats). Both dogs and cats were reported to demand more attention from their owners and/or display affiliative behaviour, as well as spend time seeking out the deceased’s favourite spot. Dogs were reported to reduce the volume (35%) and speed (31%) of food consumption and increase the amount of time spent sleeping (34%). Cats were reported to increase the frequency (43%) and volume (32%) of vocalisations following the death of a companion. The median duration of reported behavioural changes in both species was less than 6 months. There was consensus that the behaviour of companion animals changed in response to the loss of an animal companion. These behavioural changes suggest the loss had an impact on the remaining animal.

Concepts: Psychology, New Zealand, Behavior, Human behavior, Veterinary medicine, Dog, Pet

53

Purpose: The aim of this case study was to examine the individual effects of an adapted physical activity, animal-assisted intervention (APA-AAI) with the family dog on motor skills, physical activity, and quality of life of a child with cerebral palsy (CP). Method: This study used an A-B-A single-subject design. The assessment phase (phase A) occurred pre- and post-intervention. This consisted of standardized assessments of motor skills, quality of life questionnaires, physical activity (measured using the GT3X+ accelerometer) and the human-animal bond. The intervention (phase B) lasted 8 weeks and consisted of adapted physical activities performed with the family dog once a week for 60 min in a lab setting. In addition, the participant had at-home daily activities to complete with the family dog. Results: Visual analysis was used to analyze the data. Motor skill performance, physical activity, quality of life and human animal interaction gains were observed in each case. Conclusions: These preliminary results provided initial evidence that the family-dog can play a role in healthy lifestyles through APA-AAI in children with CP.

Concepts: Scientific method, Evaluation, Evaluation methods, Motor control, Learning, Cerebral palsy, Motor skill, Motor skills

48

Companion animal owners are increasingly concerned about the links between degenerative health conditions, farm animal welfare problems, environmental degradation, fertilizers and herbicides, climate change, and causative factors; such as animal farming and the consumption of animal products. Accordingly, many owners are increasingly interested in vegetarian diets for themselves and their companion animals. However, are vegetarian canine and feline diets nutritious and safe? Four studies assessing the nutritional soundness of these diets were reviewed, and manufacturer responses to the most recent studies are provided. Additional reviewed studies examined the nutritional soundness of commercial meat-based diets and the health status of cats and dogs maintained on vegetarian and meat-based diets. Problems with all of these dietary choices have been documented, including nutritional inadequacies and health problems. However, a significant and growing body of population studies and case reports have indicated that cats and dogs maintained on vegetarian diets may be healthy-including those exercising at the highest levels-and, indeed, may experience a range of health benefits. Such diets must be nutritionally complete and reasonably balanced, however, and owners should regularly monitor urinary acidity and should correct urinary alkalinisation through appropriate dietary additives, if necessary.

Concepts: Protein, Agriculture, Nutrition, Obesity, Meat, Dog, Goat, Pet

32

Based on neuroanatomical indices such as brain size and encephalization quotient, orcas are among the most intelligent animals on Earth. They display a range of complex behaviors indicative of social intelligence, but these are difficult to study in the open ocean where protective laws may apply, or in captivity, where access is constrained for commercial and safety reasons. From 1979 to 1980, however, we were able to interact with juvenile orcas in an unstructured way at San Diego’s SeaWorld facility. We observed in the animals what appeared to be pranks, tests of trust, limited use of tactical deception, emotional self-control, and empathetic behaviors. Our observations were consistent with those of a former Seaworld trainer, and provide important insights into orca cognition, communication, and social intelligence. However, after being trained as performers within Seaworld’s commercial entertainment program, a number of orcas began to exhibit aggressive behaviors. The orcas who previously established apparent friendships with humans were most affected, although significant aggression also occurred in some of their descendants, and among the orcas they lived with. Such oceanaria confinement and commercial use can no longer be considered ethically defensible, given the current understanding of orcas' advanced cognitive, social, and communicative capacities, and of their behavioral needs.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Cognition, Aggression, Behavior, Human behavior, Behaviorism, Marine mammal park

30

The killing of a satellite-tagged male lion by a trophy hunter in Zimbabwe in July 2015 provoked an unprecedented media reaction. We analyse the global media response to the trophy hunting of the lion, nicknamed “Cecil”, a study animal in a long-term project run by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). We collaborated with a media-monitoring company to investigate the development of the media coverage spatially and temporally. Relevant articles were identified using a Boolean search for the terms Cecil AND lion in 127 languages. Stories about Cecil the Lion in the editorial media increased from approximately 15 per day to nearly 12,000 at its peak, and mentions of Cecil the Lion in social media reached 87,533 at its peak. We found that, while there were clear regional differences in the level of media saturation of the Cecil story, the patterns of the development of the coverage of this story were remarkably similar across the globe, and that there was no evidence of a lag between the social media and the editorial media. Further, all the main social media platforms appeared to react in synchrony. This story appears to have spread synchronously across media channels and geographically across the globe over the span of about two days. For lion conservation in particular, and perhaps for wildlife conservation more generally, we speculate that the atmosphere may have been changed significantly. We consider the possible reasons why this incident provoked a reaction unprecedented in the conservation sector.

Concepts: Evolution, Atmosphere, Lion, Hunting, Wildlife management, Tiger, Panthera, Jaguar

29

20

In this review, the author discusses several of the weak spots in contemporary science, including scientific misconduct, the problems of post hoc hypothesizing (HARKing), outcome switching, theoretical bloopers in formulating research questions and hypotheses, selective reading of the literature, selective citing of previous results, improper blinding and other design failures, p-hacking or researchers' tendency to analyze data in many different ways to find positive (typically significant) results, errors and biases in the reporting of results, and publication bias. The author presents some empirical results highlighting problems that lower the trustworthiness of reported results in scientific literatures, including that of animal welfare studies. Some of the underlying causes of these biases are discussed based on the notion that researchers are only human and hence are not immune to confirmation bias, hindsight bias, and minor ethical transgressions. The author discusses solutions in the form of enhanced transparency, sharing of data and materials, (post-publication) peer review, pre-registration, registered reports, improved training, reporting guidelines, replication, dealing with publication bias, alternative inferential techniques, power, and other statistical tools.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Science, Experiment, Empirical, Theory, Falsifiability, Selection bias

20

On 2 July 2015, the killing of a lion nicknamed “Cecil” prompted the largest global reaction in the history of wildlife conservation. In response to this, it is propitious to consider the ways in which this moment can be developed into a financial movement to transform the conservation of species such as the lion that hold cultural significance and sentiment but whose numbers in the wild are dwindling dangerously. This provocative piece explores how a species royalty could be used effectively by drawing revenue from the heavy symbolic use of charismatic animals in affluent economies. This would, in turn, reduce strain on limited government funds in threatened animals' native homelands. Three potential areas of lucrative animal symbolism-fashion, sports mascots, and national animals-provide examples of the kind of revenue that could be created from a species royalty. These examples also demonstrate how this royalty could prove to be a desirable means by which both corporations and consumers could positively develop their desired selves while simultaneously contributing to a relevant and urgent cause. These examples intend to ignite a multi-disciplinary conversation on the global cultural economy’s use of endangered species symbols. An overhaul in perspective and practice is needed because time is running out for much of the wildlife and their ecosystems that embellish products and embody anthropocentric business identities.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Species, Endangered species, Extinction, Wildlife, Conservation reliant species, Biodiversity Action Plan