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Housing zebrafish in groups reduces anxiety, study finds
Zebrafish housed in groups returned to normal faster than individuals or pairs.
Researchers compare recovery from procedures like anaesthesia

Zebrafish housed in groups show lower levels of stress and anxiety when they undergo stressful procedures than those who are housed alone, new research has found.

Fish are increasingly being used in scientific research and there is growing evidence to show they experience stress and respond to pain in a similar way to mammals.

In the study, researchers compared recovery from procedures like anaesthesia and fin clipping in male zebrafish house individually, in pairs and in groups of six. The team analysed stress responses, such as time spent at the bottom of the tank, erratic movement and cortisol levels.

They found that anaesthesia alone and anaesthesia with fin clipping both had a significant impact on zebrafish housed alone. Both of these groups showed increased stress and behavioural alterations.

The team notes that responses of zebrafish housed in groups was less pronounced, with group-housed fish resuming normal behaviour faster than individuals or pairs. These fish also showed the lowest cortisol increase.

During the study, the researchers also confirmed that water-borne cortisol from tanks is an accurate measure of stress in zebrafish. This method avoids the need for terminal sampling, helping to reduce the number of fish required for studies on psychological stress, they add.

The research, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, was led by the University of Liverpool.

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Vets save premature penguin chick

News Story 1
 Vets have saved a tiny Humboldt penguin chick after her egg was accidentally broken by her parents. Keepers at ZSL London Zoo were shocked to find the chick, named Rainbow, still alive and rushed her straight to the Zoo’s on-site veterinary clinic.

It was a little way to go until the chick should have hatched, so the process was touch and go. Vets removed bits of shell from around the chick with tweezers until she could be lifted out and placed in a makeshift nest.

Rainbow is now in a custom-built incubation room where she spends her days cuddled up to a toy penguin. Keepers will hand-fed Rainbow for the next 10 weeks until she is healthy enough to move to the penguin nursery.  

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BVA president John Fishwick said: “The infographic is not intended to be a league table but to allow people to understand what aspects of animal health and welfare are addressed by assurance schemes so that they can decide which scheme best aligns with their own individual preferences and priorities."