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.
Zoos and aquaria have progressively evolved into conservation centres aimed at conserving biodiversity through educational, recreational, research and integrated conservation activities. Their work is based on a strong cooperation at national and international level, that enables the collaborative management of hundreds of thousands of animals and the protection of endangered species through integrated conservation programmes. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated health, social and economic crisis have greatly impacted the zoological community, leading to multifaceted consequences especially for small private institutions. Here, we present the operational and ethical challenges, as well as the opportunities, arisen from the on-going crisis, focusing on Pistoia Zoo (Italy) as a case study. We finally discuss ethical and operational constraints and perspectives which could characterize the upcoming future of zoological facilities.
Although the sterilization of pregnant companion animals occurs regularly in private veterinary clinics and animal shelters, there is growing concern amongst veterinarians and animal welfare supporters about the appropriateness of carrying out this procedure. The ethical and legal perspectives of the procedure have not been widely discussed in the available literature. This paper aims to remedy this situation. It considers the sterilization of pregnant companion animals using four ethical frameworks: animal rights, utilitarian, relational and contractarian. The possible interests of all involved parties, including the animal itself, the unborn young, the veterinarian, shelter and clinic staff, and the wider community are included. Where the science on companion animals in this area is limited, the paper draws on science involving other species. The legal aspects are discussed with analogies to human abortion laws. The paper concludes by providing a framework that veterinarians and others can use when making ethical decisions.
Human encroachment on the habitats of wild animals and the dense living conditions of farmed animals increase spill-over risk of emerging infectious diseases from animals to humans (such as COVID-19). In this article, we defend two claims: First, we argue that in order to limit the risk of emerging infectious disease outbreaks in the future, a One Health approach is needed, which focuses on human, animal, and environmental health. Second, we claim that One Health should not solely be grounded in collaborations between veterinary, medical, and environmental scientists, but should also involve more dialogue with animal and environmental ethicists. Such an interdisciplinary approach would result in epidemiology-driven measures that are ethically legitimate.