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RSPCA outlines important recommendations at UK’s last ever EU animal welfare meeting
The RSPCA's recommendations have been published amid fears that animal welfare could be under threat in a free trade agreement.

Government encouraged to maintain animal welfare standards

Following the final meeting of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Animal Welfare for UK members, the RSPCA has laid out five important recommendations for a free trade agreement with the EU.

Despite the Government’s promises in its manifesto, the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill currently contains no references to animal welfare. This has raised concerns regarding future trade deals between the EU and the UK, as there is no legal guarantee that animal welfare standards will be included.

The RSPCA’s five ‘red lines’ for a free trade agreement ensure that animal welfare standards are protected. These include:

  • Continuing tariff-free trade, especially on food
  • An agreement from both sides to maintain standards. If one side improves standards, the other should as well
  • Mutual recognition of both side’s regulatory processes. As an example, products tested on animals should not need to be tested twice for the EU and UK markets, as this creates a risk of increased animal testing
  • A common veterinary agreement between the EU and the UK. This would mitigate threats to animal welfare that may emerge from movements, checks and delays between the two areas
  • A ‘transparent’ process for resolving any trade issues that arise.

RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles said: “We believe that [the recommendations outlined] are important principles for a free trade deal.

“We know there is public support for this - polls have shown 67 per cent of the public do not want products to be imported at standards illegal in the UK and 81 per cent said they wanted our animal standards to be maintained or improved.

“Even if these animal welfare standards remain in UK law, it is vital that in any trade deal, the UK does not agree to import products which are produced at lower standards, whether it is food, products tested on animals or how fish are caught. The result would be undercutting our own producers or industry, and would be a race to the bottom for animal welfare.”

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Rare chimp birth announced at Edinburgh Zoo

News Story 1
 The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) welcomed the birth of a critically endangered western chimpanzee on Monday 3 February at Edinburgh Zoo's Budongo Trail.

The baby girl will be named in the coming days through a public vote, and staff will carry out a paternity test during its first health check to determine the father.

Mother Heleen's first infant, Velu, was born in 2014, making this new baby only the second chimpanzee born in Scotland for more than 20 years.

Budongo Trail team leader Donald Gow said: "While we celebrate every birth, this one is particularly special because our new arrival is a critically endangered Western chimpanzee, a rare subspecies of chimpanzee."

Image (c) RZSS/Donald Gow. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.