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Empathy for animals linked to oxytocin gene
The research has linked genetics to relationships between humans and animals.
Research identifies genetic difference in animal lovers
 
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have discovered that animal lovers have a specific version of the oxytocin gene.

Oxytocin, often called the love hormone, influences human behaviour and levels rise with social bonding.

DNA samples from 161 student volunteers were analysed in the study, and participants were instructed to complete a questionnaire to indicate their compassion towards animals.

Results identified a genetic difference in those who displayed high empathy for animals; specifically, within the gene that produces oxytocin.

According to the researchers, this is the first time that genetics has been linked to relationships between humans and animals.

Dr Sarah Brown, from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, stated: “We already knew that oxytocin was important for empathy between people but now we know it helps us bond with animals too.”

Results also concluded that more women than men reacted positively towards animals, as did those working in the animal care sector.

Commenting on the study, Professor Alistair Lawrence from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and SRUC, said: “This research is only the beginning but we hope that these findings could help us to devise strategies to help improve animal welfare across the UK.”

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Stephen Fry lends voice to frog conservation film

News Story 1
 Comedian and author Stephen Fry has lent his voice to a new animation that hopes to raise awareness of deadly ranavirus, which is threatening the UK’s frogs.

Research by ZSL, who created the short film, suggests that at least 20 per cent of ranavirus cases over the past three decades, could be attributed to human introductions. This includes pond owners introducing fish, frog spawn and plants from other environments.

Amphibian disease expert Dr Stephen Price said: “People can help stop the spread by avoiding moving potentially infected material such as spawn, tadpoles, pond water and plants into their own pond. Disinfecting footwear or pond nets before using them elsewhere will also help.” 

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BVA Welsh Branch elects new president

Veterinary surgeon Ifan Lloyd was elected president of the BVA Welsh Branch at its AGM on 25 June.

Ifan has worked mainly in mixed practice since graduating from Cambridge University in 1988. He was a partner at St James Veterinary Group for 23 years and has continued to work part time at the practice since retiring in 2017.

He is passionate about animal health and disease eradication. He is a director of Cefn Gwlad Solutions, a company set up to lead bovine TB programmes in collaboration with other stakeholders. He is also director of lechyd Da (gwledig), the bTB testing delivery partner in South Wales.

Ifan said, “As a founding member of BVA Welsh Branch I am honoured and delighted to be elected as President. I have been passionate about representing the veterinary profession in Wales for many years and I plan to use this experience to represent my colleagues to the best of my abilities.”