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Study reveals “mammal bias” in zoo animal research
Scientists are being urged to study zoo animals like the waxy monkey frog.

Scientists urged to study the welfare of lesser-known species

Researchers at the University of Exeter say there is a distinct “mammal bias” when it comes to scientific research on zoo animals.

The study, published in the journal Palgrave Communications, analysed the past decade of zoo animal research and noted the growth and value of such studies.

It found that research on zoo animals focuses more on “familiar” species such as chimpanzees and gorillas, less so than well-known species such as the waxy monkey frog. This is despite the fact that, globally, fish and birds outnumber mammals reptiles and amphibians in zoos. 

Lead author Dr Paul Rose said that while this bias exists on wider research, zoos can provide great opportunities to study other species.

“Some species, such as chimpanzees, are popular with scientists because we know a lot about them, they are accessible and humans can relate to them,” he said. As well as being found in zoos, many of these species are relatively easy to find and study in the wild. By contrast, it would be hard to find a waxy monkey frog in the rainforest to conduct your research.

“Zoos offer us a fantastic opportunity to study a vast range of species, many of which would be very difficult to observe in their natural habitat. Our findings can teach us about conservation, animal health and how best to house them in zoos.”

The research also looked into whether research in different animals tended to focus on different topics. 

Dr Rose continued: “Lots of mammal studies are about animal welfare, which is great, but we should also research the welfare of fish, birds and anything else we keep in zoos.

“At the moment, we are publishing on the same few species, rather than broadening our scope.
 Obviously we have lots to learn about every species, but opportunities to study many other zoo-housed animals are currently being missed.”

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Cats Protection launches Christmas animation

News Story 1
 Leading feline charity Cats Protection has launched a heartwarming Christmas animation to raise awareness of the important work it does. The animation is based on a true story of a kitten that went missing earlier this year. Freezing cold and hungry, the kitten was dumped in a box on a roadside and somehow became separated from her brother and sisters.

Thankfully there is a happy end to this tail, and Libby - now named Misty - was eventually reunited with her littermates. Misty’s owner, Amy Smith, said: “Misty has settled amazingly well into our home, she has found a best friend in my daughter Lily and likes to follow her around the house. She also loves to chase bugs in the garden. We feel very lucky to have her.” 

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WSAVA launches certificate programme focusing on companion animals in One Health

The first certificate programme focusing specifically on the role of companion animals in One Health has been launched by the One Health Committee (OHC) of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

The online programme, which is free of charge for WSAVA members, has been developed in recognition of the growing impact of companion animals in human society. Pet ownership is becoming more popular globally, and this has increased the implications for One Health, regarding the human-companion animal bond. The WSAVA OHC hopes that this course will bridge the knowledge gap between veterinary surgeons and human physicians. New modules are being added weekly, with a total of 20 modules expected to be available by early 2020.