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Goats ‘can detect emotions’ in calls from other goats
This provides the first strong evidence that goats can distinguish between calls based on emotion.
Study sheds light on social communication of emotions 

Goats may be able to distinguish between positive and negative calls from other goats, scientists say.

An international study led by the Queen Mary University of London measured behavioural and physiological changes to find out if they can tell the difference between calls linked to positive emotions.

Scientists recorded goat calls associated with positive and negative emotions, then played them to other goats through a loud speaker, followed by a randomly selected final call.

According to the findings, when the emotion of the call changed, so did the likelihood of goats looking towards the source of the sound. The goats’ heart rate variability was also greater when they heard positive sounds, compared to negative.

This provides the first strong evidence that goats can distinguish between calls based on emotion, and that their own emotions may be affected. Such an ability could offer an evolutionary advantage among groups of animals that are not always in contact with each other, facilitating better coordination and cohesion in the group.

Lead author Dr Alan McElligott said: “Perceiving the emotional state of another individual through its vocalisations and being affected by those vocalisations has important implications for how we care for domestic animals, and in particular livestock species.”

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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.