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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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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.