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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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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”