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.
Adequate training and collaboration skills for all the professional figures involved in animal rescue activities are needed. Nowadays the real challenge for all rescuers is to consider the multiple aspects of the human-animal-environment relationship that have changed profoundly throughout history and that make the COVID-19 pandemic unique in its kind. In this period the emergency to be addressed consists in providing the assistance of animals which belong to people who have died, been hospitalized or forced to isolate. A careful analysis of the different scenarios reveals that there is no single solution to intervene, but that it is necessary to find the most suitable alternative to individual cases. The aim of this paper is to offer specific indications to volunteers, veterinarians and not, in different scenarios not losing sight of the goal: to protect the welfare of the animal and its owner, avoiding the spread of the infection.
With COVID-19 rampaging through the world in 2020, global businesses were disrupted. The resulting pandemic caused many undesirable economic and societal effects including: sudden supply shortages, economic recession, unemployment, lower consumer incomes, reduced business revenues and increased business losses. A knock-on effect of these effects is increased opportunity for illicit trade to take place and food fraud. Paradoxically the coronavirus outbreak threatened legal global distribution routes and facilitated some fraudulent trade, highlighting that fraud is opportunistic by nature. This is not unexpected as case history and published literature highlights increased fraud in the aftermath of hurricanes and other natural disasters. History teaches us that fraudulent activities in the aftermath or amid a crisis result from “at-risk” individuals e.g., those in poverty, criminals or opportunists, taking advantage from weaknesses in systems e.g., food chain, financial services etc. and as crime increases offenders are motivated to find new flaws to exploit. So far, there are no international data available to compare incidence of food fraud and adulteration during pandemic to any previous pre-pandemic period. The scope of this paper is not therefore to assert that there was a pandemic related increase in food fraud, but to indicate market and supply chain weaknesses and disturbances that may have exposed the market to a higher risk of food fraud vulnerability during the pandemic. Indication of these system weaknesses, highlights areas that might deserve special monitoring and development to reduce vulnerability in any future global crisis.
Aquatic animals have been maintained by humans in confined spaces since very ancient times. In the last century both, the need to implement seafood productions and the popularity of aquatic exhibits, have facilitated professional scientific development of live fish management techniques. In this context, aquatic animal welfare has therefore become an important standpoint to guarantee good and safe quality of seafood and sustainable aquaria and zoological collections. At the end of 2019, SARS-CoV-2 severely affected human health in China and shortly became pandemic, hence influencing globally most types of businesses. All animal industries fully dependent on human daily activities and resources, have been severely impacted by human distancing and isolation protocols. During this world crisis, extensive changes in aquarium management procedures had to be applied. Specific contingency plans were developed to protect humans and to guarantee animal care, in order to avoid the risk for aquaria fading away.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put lot of pressure on management of laboratory animals. With the risk of human infection and the lockdown, specific measures had to be arranged. Unfortunately, these often included depopulation of animal facility. Wild-type and genetically modified rodents had to be culled and breeding had to be reduced, to be able to provide standard care all the time. Being animal care staff essential workers, they were coming to check animals also instead of researchers, who were not able to access the facility. Undergoing experiments had to be stopped to avoid animal welfare issues in a time when personnel wouldn’t be available as usual. At the same time, new in vivo studies for COVID-19 projects had to be evaluated by the Ethics Committee, raising many questions: how do you objectively review the study and assess harms on animals when only few scientific information is available and we don’t even know what is the best model for the disease? Has it been right to stop all other research areas in favour of COVID-19 related research? The pandemic has shown many weakness points in how animals are used, how projects are reviewed and funded, and how staff care for animals, so, perhaps, we will be better prepared for the next pandemic.
Although animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) share specific characteristics, their differences can be quite significant (Lajoie, 2003). Most research on AAIs focuses on the human side (Muñoz Lasa et al., 2011). The autonomy and well-being of the animals involved are seldom studied, as well as the possible values of conflict between humans and animals (Glenk, 2017). The COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the world starting in 2019–2020, greatly affected human-animal interaction projects, such as animal-assisted interventions (Kumar et al., 2020). To control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, several (inter)national organisations, came up with new safety protocols. We focus on scientific insights and anecdotal observations, as well as the ethical implications of the COVID-19 safety protocols on AAIs in Belgium and Italy. The paper aims to give the reader an insight into the complexity of AAIs and its future relevance for developing protocols to handle the current and maybe future pandemics.