Welfare within zoos and aquariums has come under increasing scrutiny due to the change in public opinion of animals in captivity. It is vital that as an industry mechanisms and frameworks are in place to determine welfare of animals within our care. Due to potential bias in current welfare models toward terrestrial vertebrates, it is important to determine whether they can be utilised in differing environments such as aquariums. Using the most recent five domain model (Mellor, 2017) the possible application within public aquaria is discussed, considering each domain in respect to aquatic invertebrates, an often-neglected group of organisms when considering welfare in aquaria. This review highlights the additional considerations needed when applying the five domain model to this diverse group of organisms. Furthermore, the identification of gaps within the current literature is discussed in respect to whether the full five domain model can be currently be applied at this time.
An integrated approach using morphological and genetic data is needed to disentangle taxonomic uncertainties affecting the hydrozoan families Sphaerocorynidae and Zancleopsidae. Here we used this approach to accurately characterise species in these families, identify the previously unknown polyp stages of the genera Euphysilla and Zancleopsis, which were originally described exclusively based on the medusa stages, describe a new sphaerocorynid genus and species, and assess the phylogenetic position of the two families within the Capitata. The monotypic genus Astrocoryne was found to be a synonym of Zancleopsis. Astrocoryne cabela was therefore transferred to the genus Zancleopsis as Zancleopsis cabela comb. nov. The new polyp-based genus and species Kudacoryne diaphana gen. nov. sp. nov. was erected within the Sphaerocorynidae. Both taxa are primarily based on genetic data, but the introduction of this new genus was made necessary by the fact that it clustered with the genera Heterocoryne and Euphysilla, despite showing Sphaerocoryne-like polyps. Interestingly, the species analysed in this work showed contrasting biogeographical patterns. Based on our data and literature records, some species appear to have a wide circumtropical range, whereas others are limited to few localities. Overall, these results lay the ground for future investigations aimed at resolving the taxonomy and systematics of these two enigmatic families.
Horses form an integral part of Irish culture and heritage. COVID-19 restrictions have created challenges for living generally and for those who own and care-take animals. It is envisaged that risks may arise for equine welfare and many factors may contribute to it. The “Five Freedoms” have formed the basis for animal welfare legislation however, the “Five Domains Model” has progressed to provide a robust model built on scientific research. With advances in research and knowledge, welfare may be measured both physiologically and behaviourally. This study sought to investigate the impact, if any of COVID-19, on the welfare of sport and leisure horses in Ireland. An online survey was conducted to gather data regarding the welfare of sport and leisure horses in Ireland during COVID-19 restrictions. There were several positive findings and the majority of respondents (n = 69) felt that COVID-19 restrictions did not negatively affect the welfare of their horses.
Methodological choices in animal experimentation are influenced by a variety of factors. The analysis of the relative weight of such factors on the practice of animal experimentation can offer a better idea of the influences characterizing the work of researchers today. To this aim, we conducted structured interviews and sent out questionnaires to researchers using animal models. The results showed that the main factor influencing the researchers’ work with animals was the appropriateness of the chosen animal model to respond to the question addressed. Ethical issues came as the next important factor, mostly based on considerations regarding animal suffering. The general public opinion appeared to be of little significance, indicating that a gap still exists between animal researchers and society. This paper shows animal experimentation is influenced by both external (e.g., adherence to scientific objectivity) and internal factors (e.g., ethical concerns), providing a varied profile of the contemporary animal researcher.
‘My fish and I’ is an account of the diversity of human-fish interactions. This includes their benefits, detriments/harms as well as their moral and animal welfare. Fish are not easily perceived as individual animals having mental states, interests, needs and a degree of individuality. Additionally, fish have been handled as a simple resource in innumerable human interactions. Important ethical approaches address animal-human interactions based upon the individual’s cognitive ability and capacity to feel pleasure and pain. Given the ample evidence that fish have neuroanatomical structures that support the capacity to feel (sentience) and have complex behavioural and cognitive abilities, a moral duty is imposed upon us. Some human-centered and eco-centered moral views complement different perceptions of the nature of our relationship with fish. This occurs both at the individual level and as species or populations face a serious need for conservation. The concepts and assessments in the developments of animal welfare science provide ample basis for an evolution in the quality of human-fish interactions. However, many stakeholders must take part in this evolution. This is especially true as it concerns those areas of activity involving many individual fish and higher levels of suffering. Examples of these are aquaculture and commercial fisheries where there is much more at stake. Consumers will have the last word in this role, namely by reducing fish consumption.
In order to continue its business sustainably, any industry that uses animals must largely align their ethical position with that of the general public: ‘the mainstream social ethic’. Although zoos are transitioning from entertainment venues to conservation actors, many cetacean (whale and dolphin) facilities present the animals in unnatural-looking enclosures and entertainment-driven contexts. But what is the ‘mainstream social ethic’ regarding cetacean facilities, and what might it mean for the industry’s future? The evidence is first reviewed on cetacean welfare and the purported purposes for displaying cetaceans in the past and present. The mainstream social ethic is then defined, suggesting we may be at a crossroads for this industry. Welfare has improved in the last decades but could be further enhanced through providing more choice and control in cetaceans’ environments, particularly in enrichment, training and social groupings. Sanctuary settings provide a potential environment with more choice and control, but are still in the very initial stages of development. Fundamental, structural changes to the mission, presentation of the cetaceans and business model seem to be needed to realign the public display of cetaceans with the mainstream social ethic of the times.
As ocean’s apex predators, elasmobranchs are a very popular group in zoos and public aquariums. Since 30% of these species are threatened, there is a need within the zoo and public aquarium community to create a Regional Collection Plan (RCP) to coordinate the elasmobranch populations under human care. In 2011, Royal Burgers’ Zoo decided to change the Institutional Collection Plan (ICP) and stopped getting any sharks or rays directly from the wild. This study presents the potential and challenges of this approach. Although this study shows it to be a feasible approach for one public aquarium, implementing this ICP criterion in multiple public aquariums will require an increase in breeding efforts. There may also remain a need to collect animals from the wild as part of a conservation programme on threatened species or to increase the number of founders in a breeding programme.