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Study reveals insights on zookeeper-animal bond
Vicki Melfi, professor in human-animal interactions at Hartpury University.
Zookeepers draw boundaries with animals in their care to maintain illusions of ‘nature’

The complex relationship that can exist between zookeepers and their animals has been revealed in a new study, led by researchers at the universities of Hartpury, Chester and Bolton.

The study, published in the journal Anthrozoos, explored how zookeepers reflected on their experiences with the different species they care for, while ensuring they work professionally to ensure high standards of care.

It found that zookeepers entered the job “for the love of animals.” However, they drew boundaries with the animals in their care to reduce interference with normal behaviour and to maintain illusions of ‘nature’ in a zoo environment.

Researchers found these behaviours can be difficult to maintain during the relationship for various reasons. For example, if a keeper needed to raise an animal by hand because the mother had abandoned her offspring.

“Our study highlighted that zookeepers are expected to distance themselves from the wild animals they’re working with. Yet many zookeepers interact more with the animals in their care on a daily basis, than many people may do with their pets,” explained Vicki Melfi, professor in human-animal interactions at Hartpury University.

“Zookeepers are expected to give the animals as much love and compassion as they’d give to their pets, but these ‘wild’ animals are not pets so they need to maintain emotional and physical distance. When we asked the zookeepers how they managed to achieve that, what came through consistently was that zookeepers always put the welfare and long-term interest of the animals first.”

Fourteen zookeepers from different establishments in the UK and New Zealand participated in the research. Scientists hope their findings will inform perceptions of the role of the human-animal bond in the management of zoo animals.

“There’s a huge level of humanity displayed by those interviewed in this study, and people who look after animals more widely, by doing the right thing for animal welfare and conservation,” Professor Melfi continued.

“Hopefully, this report will help give due credit to the professionalism and the level of understanding and care of those working within the zoo industry.”

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VetCT app offered to students and new graduates

News Story 1
 The VetCT app is being offered for free to students and new veterinary graduates for their first three months in practice. The app provides a service for vets to send case information to a global team of Diploma-holding specialists, who can provide advice and support via instant call-back, text chat, written report, or virtual appointment.

Time on the app is automatically logged as CPD with quarterly certificates being generated for users. Additional services include the ability to book bespoke CPD, significant event reviews, and live training sessions such as surgical procedures.

The app is downloadable for both iOS and Android systems. 

Click here for more...
News Shorts
HORIBA to host CPD webinar

HORIBA has announced that it will host an online CPD meeting focusing on 'Exotic Parasites - The Importance of Testing in The Imported Dog'. Ian Wright (BVMS, MSc, MRCVS), head of ESCCAP UK and Ireland, will present on the importance of testing protocols in diseases of imported dogs.

The meeting will provide attendees with an overview of emerging veterinary diseases with a particular focus on exotic parasites, and discuss the importance of accurate testing protocols and equipment, alongside a final Q&A session.

The webinar will take place on Thursday July 1, from 19.30pm to 21.00pm BST. For free registration and more information visit the Horiba website or register.gotowebinar.com