Fish cognition and welfare, Earth hour on Saturday & Science Into Practice #141 Material and food exploration

Fish cognition and welfare

This month on the animal wellbeing platform is about animal cognition. This concept refers to a suite of mental processes of non-human animals, including perception, learning, decision-making, and memory.

Research on animal cognition has revealed that many species of animals possess complex mental abilities that were once thought to be unique to humans. For example, chimpanzees have been shown to be able to use tools, solve complex problems, and communicate with each other using a complex system of gestures and vocalisations. Birds have demonstrated the ability to use tools, recognise themselves in mirrors, and remember the location of hidden food caches.

Over the last decades, we have seen an increased interest in fish cognition and welfare. The ability to feel pain has gained interest in research, with several studies focusing on understanding pain experiences and welfare issues in fish. This Science into Practice resource of a review article by Lynne U....

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Team building with BITE, 24/7 for farm animals & Science into Practice #140 Killer whales creativity

Team Building with BITE & AnimalConcepts at Zoo de Bordeaux-Pessac

Team Building with BITE has been invited to work alongside AnimalConcepts in France at Zoo de Bordeaux-Pessac on a 9-day practical & team building project, specifically focused on designing for elderly animals and captivity building and staff training. TBWB was founded in 2015, under the expertise of Mark Kingston-Jones and Chris Hales in animal welfare and behaviour. The project aims to help increase animal welfare through species-specific feeders and furniture in animal facilities worldwide, to provide animal keepers with items for their animals that they are unable to create due to lack of time or resources, and to provide their corporate teams with unique and fun days with an incredible reward, and where their efforts will make a genuine difference.

Prior to the arrival of TBWB, AnimalConcepts worked with the animal care staff at the zoo on the holistic approach to animal wellbeing through the lens of...

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New animal welfare website, Bishop Burton College, Not a pet, and Science into Practice #138 Interactive art enrichment for chimpanzees

Animal Sentience and Welfare: A Self-help Guide by Professor Emeritus John Webster

"For more than 50 years my thoughts and deeds have focused on animal sentience and animal welfare, viewed, so far as possible through their eyes, not ours. I offer this site as an introduction to these things, as I understand them, for all who care, whatever their age and experience. My approach is based on the principle of Reverence for Life. My rules of engagement are constrained by the principles of sound science. Together, these drive me to the conclusion that all life is worthy of respect and no species is better or more worthy of our respect than any other. My aim throughout this brief introduction to the philosophy, science and practice of animal welfare is not to suggest what you should think but to present structures upon which you can develop your own thoughts and interpret your experience. There are links for those who want to dig deeper. I have put these ideas on a website...

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ATA, Oakland University, and Science into Practice #137 Environmental enrichment for lizards

Enrichment office hours with ATA Founder Ryan Cartlidge

"Meeting our animal's needs can feel overwhelming and stressful at times! And at Animal Training Academy, our members know what this feels like. Therefore we were super grateful to have Sabrina Brando bring her decades of knowledge and experience to our community [in January] to help grow our skills, knowledge and confidence in this area – thanks so much, Sabrina!" said Ryan Cartlidge, Founder of the Animal Training Academy.

The Animal Training Academy (ATA) recently had a month dedicated to environmental enrichment. Founder Ryan Cartlidge shared a short example: "Sabrina and I discussed the importance of an excellent environmental enrichment program to help us meet our animals' needs! One example discussed was training penguins to use foot baths to help with bumble-foot (bumble-foot is lesions or sores on the underside of bird feet). We talked about how we could easily train a penguin/s to stand in a foot bath. However,...

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New paper on porpoises, education invited webinar Bishop Burton & Science into Practice #136 Review of technology for welfare

Purposeful porpoise training at Fjord&Bælt: The first 25 years

A new paper on a historical overview of the Fjord&Bæl's (F&B) work on harbour porpoise care and wellbeing as been published. From the original idea of establishing a marine research institution to build animal care and training programs. This paper describes in detail the story of specific porpoises, from the moment they arrived at the centre, and how they engaged in husbandry and training routines. Sabrina Brando is one of the co-authors.

You can read more about the historical perspectives of F&B in the peer-reviewed journal Aquatic Mammals and download the paper HERE

Online webinar on global collaboration for animal wellbeing and conservation with University Centre Bishop Burton College

Last month Sabrina Brando connected with University Centre Bishop Burton College. Staff and students from the Human-Animal Interactions, Psychology MSc students as well as MSc Applied Animal Behaviour &...

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FOUNDATIONS platform & Science Into Practice #135 Activity and pool use in hippopotamuses

Last week we released our new Foundations platform, which is designed to be a starting point for those who are new to the platform, need a refresher on how to use our library, or are looking for basic introductory information on the many concepts we cover across our three animal, human, and planetary wellbeing platforms.

As with all resources on all our platforms, these resources are designed to be used at any time, anywhere, when you need them. You can find a variety of materials like introduction to animal welfare assessments and the Earth Charter, guides on how to read scientific resources or how to be a transformational leader, and practical activities to apply your acquired knowledge. Every month we release new information and practical exercises that will help you to learn and understand different topics, with useful illustrations, glossaries, and more attractive resources.

We aim to provide content that suits a wide range of people from a wide range of backgrounds, no matter...

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FOUNDATIONS! Social and economic justice & Science into Practice #134 Sound environment zoo animals

FOUNDATIONS platform launch

We are committed to providing accessible and affordable continued professional development and learning opportunities for all in the animal care and conservation community. This includes everyone from students to professors and from trainee animal care staff to CEOs: we aim to provide content that suits a wide range of people from a wide range of backgrounds, no matter how much experience you have.

That’s why we are developing and launching a brand-new platform as part of our interconnected learning experience through the AnimalConcepts membership: FOUNDATIONS!

Our new Foundations platform, bringing us up to 4 interconnected platforms, is designed to be a starting point for those who are new to the platform, need a refresher on how to use our library, or are looking for basic introductory information on the many concepts we cover across our three animal, human, and planetary wellbeing platforms.

As with all resources on all our platforms, these...

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Harbour porpoise publication & Science into Practice #133 Biofloors great ape exhibits

A new paper on which AnimalConcepts founder Sabrina Brando has collaborated is available for open access. The highlights of the peer-reviewed article are:

  • We used von Bertalanffy growth curve to enable age prediction of harbour porpoises.
  • Harbour porpoises grow 66% during the first year.
  • Asymptotic length was reached after 4 years.
  • Large seasonal variations in body mass, girth and blubber thickness were evident.
  • It is possible to predict individual body mass ± 2 kg using length and girth.
  • Enables investigations of nutritional state by measurements of the Body Mass Index.

You can download the paper and supplemental information HERE

Another Science into Practice is available on the animal wellbeing platform, as well as new human and planetary wellbeing content. Want to learn more? Sign up HERE

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DogPAWS launch party on Saturday, Planetary film & Science into Practice #132 Naturalistic enclosures

DogPAWS is a novel online platform that provides everyone with access to continuous science-based learning, sharing opportunities, and resources needed to support optimal dog wellbeing. This platform is an international collaboration between Sabrina Brando and the team at AnimalConcepts, Dr Annika Bremhorst, and Dr Sabrina Karl. The platform kicks off with a major online launch party this Saturday from 11:00 to 18:00 GMT+1 with a series of exciting talks on dog science, practice, and training from selected scientists, experts, and practitioners around the world. You can convert your time zone HERE.

Join the party by registering via to reserve your free online ticket and receive the launch party access link. You can find more updates also in the Facebook event HERE.

Check the draft program  & celebrate the launch of DogPAWS with us!

Another Science into Practice is...

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Ageing animal book, Being human by Naima Penniman & Science into Practice #131 Tortoise enclosure design

Update on forthcoming book Optimal Wellbeing of Ageing Wild Animals in Human Care

Sabrina Brando and Dr Sarah Chapman submitted the edited volume on caring for ageing animals! After more than 2 years of collaboration with wonderful co-authors, they have finished editing all chapters and content. The book has been submitted to the editorial team at Springer Nature and is expected to be released later this summer. Many thanks to all the contributors, including the fabulous photos of individual animals and their stories. Stay tuned!

Another Science into Practice is available on the animal wellbeing platform, as well as new human and planetary wellbeing content. Want to learn more? Sign up HERE

I wonder if rain is scared of falling if it has trouble letting go, if snow flakes get sick of being perfect all the time each one trying to be one-of-a-kind. 

In light of the Interbeing, we are inspired by these beautiful words from the poem "Being Human" by poet Naima...

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