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New tool to monitor wellbeing of captive elephants
The tool is helping zookeepers to monitor the impact of changes in animal husbandry.

Method already in use at captive elephant facilities across the UK

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed a tool to help zookeepers monitor the wellbeing of elephants in their care.

The Elephant Behavioural Welfare Assessment tool is the culmination of research published in PLOS ONE and allows keepers to track the welfare of individual elephants based on their demeanour and welfare.

The tool is already in use at captive elephant facilities across the UK, helping keepers to monitor the impact of changes in animal husbandry and develop facilities that are designed to enhance animal welfare.

Zoo and wildlife medicine lecturer Dr Lisa Yon, who led the research, said: “Our new tool provides, for the first time, a reliable way for people looking after captive elephants to use the elephants’ behaviours to monitor their welfare over time.”

The tool is to be completed by the keeper and consists of four one-minute live observational assessments, daytime behaviour questions and nighttime observations.

It was initially tested at five elephant holding facilities in the UK on a total of 29 elephants - representing alomst half of the total UK captive population at the time.

Based on the testing results, the finalised Elephant Behavioural Welfare Assessment tool was developed and is now included in the Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice Guidelines as a routine part of the welfare assessment of captive elephants across the UK.

Researchers suggest that a similar method could also be employed for other species in zoos and aquariums.

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.