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Seeing the big picture is complicated. Research to measure and predict outcomes is an indispensable tool in the development of sustainable policies. Like any tool, it’s up to us what we build (or tear down) with it. A compartmentalized mindset has become the accepted standard, in advocacy as well as in research. But is compartmentalization sustainable?
Biomass Use, Production, Feed Efficiencies, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Global Livestock SystemsSubmitted on Apr 21, 2014 (Original item from 2013) Diet and Nutrition | Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection | Research Tools and Methods
This article from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences introduces a 120-page appendix describing animal distribution, biomass consumption (feed), farm size and practices, and animal-related greenhouse gas emissions in global "livestock" farming. The report is presented as a baseline dataset for environmental and agricultural decisions. Animal advocates may wish to address its assumptions that animal farming is key to food security, and that conversion to western-style factory farming best reduces its environmental impacts in the developing world. The comparison of "feed efficiency" in meat vs. dairy production may also be of interest.
This study observed the pacing behaviors of 38 tigers in 7 zoos in France. Data was analyzed to determine how enclosure size correlated with problematic "stereotypy" pacing, and whether distances covered in non-pacing movement correlated with distances covered daily by tigers living in the wild. Time of day, gender, age and other factors were also analyzed. Problematic pacing was greatly reduced with larger enclosure sizes. The authors encourage zoo managers to make more appropriate provisions for tigers' biological need for movement.
This UK survey sought to measure knowledge of and attitude about sharks among persons who already had an interest in marine life. The general level of knowledge about sharks was very high, although knowledge about UK shark fishing practices and their impact was substantially lower. A majority of respondents also had positive feelings about sharks and shark conservation, which were not negatively impacted among those who had experienced personal contact with sharks. However, there was little impetus to advocacy, perhaps because a clear advocacy path has not been defined.
United Kingdom veterinary charity, the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), surveyed companion animal guardians, children, and veterinary staff to measure the well-being of cats, dogs, and rabbits according to 5 legislated "Duty of Care" criteria: environment, diet, behavior, companionship and health. Special sections highlighting companion animal obesity, behavior training, and the decision-making process leading up to guardianship comprise the bulk of the magazine-style 2012 report. Veterinarian and guardian answers to survey questions on care practices and public policy issues are contrasted.
What prompted this son of wealth, with little history of persistent effort or particular accomplishments, to suddenly become a hands-on, full-time animal advocate when he was well into his 50s? A lot of people have wondered, including those who knew him at the time. The mystery is intensified when we read that the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals didn’t actually like animals!
This Dutch study tests the application of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to understanding respondents' meat consumption choices. Survey questions measured whether respondents were internally or externally motivated, as well as identifying specific motivating factors. Results were consistent with those predicted by SDT. The authors conclude SDT may be a useful framework to analyze complex dietary decisions in order to more effectively influence consumers to make environmentally sustainable meat-consumption choices.
The use of fish as a substitute for mammals in laboratories has skyrocketed into the millions. Little research has been done on the effects of anesthetics that are used on fish during surgical procedures and euthanasia. This study tested nine anesthetics on Danio zebrafish for reactions that indicated discomfort, distress or pain. Seven of the anesthetics, including two of the most widely used, caused aversive reactions. The authors conclude that they are inhumane, and should be discontinued. They also call for similar tests for other types of fish, since reactions can vary from species to species.
Better Off in the Wild? Evaluating a Captive Breeding and Release Program for the Recovery of an Endangered RodentSubmitted on Apr 10, 2014 (Original item from 2013) General Animal Protection | Research Tools and Methods | Wildlife and Exotics
This study applied a modeling approach to the evaluation of a captive breeding and release program intended to preserve the Key Largo woodrat from impending extinction. The results of doing nothing, slow introduction of captive-bred woodrats and rapid introduction of captive-bred woodrats for 15 years were projected and compared. Slightly better outcomes were predicted for a no-management strategy, due to a lower birth rate in captivity than in the wild, and a low survival rate after release of captive-bred woodrats.
This study tests the Pet Attachment and Life Impact Scale (PALS), which was developed to measure four impacts upon guardians of their relationships with their animal companions: Love, Regulation, Personal Growth, and Negative Impacts. The survey of 651 college students validated PALS consistency with related scales, and its usefulness to more accurately differentiate and measure the factors of guardian attachment to companion animals in future research.
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