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.