Animals2016, 6(9), 50; doi:10.3390/ani6090050 - published 23 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Millions of laboratory animals are killed each year worldwide. There is an ethical, and in many countries also a legal, imperative to ensure those deaths cause minimal suffering. However, there is a lack of consensus regarding what methods of killing are humane for many species and stages of development. In 2013, an international group of researchers and stakeholders met at Newcastle University, United Kingdom to discuss the latest research and which methods could currently be considered most humane for the most commonly used laboratory species (mice, rats and zebrafish). They also discussed factors to consider when making decisions about appropriate techniques for particular species and projects, and priorities for further research. This report summarises the research findings and discussions, with recommendations to help inform good practice for humane killing.
Animals2016, 6(8), 49; doi:10.3390/ani6080049 - published 18 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Based on neuroanatomical indices such as brain size and encephalization quotient, orcas are among the most intelligent animals on Earth. They display a range of complex behaviors indicative of social intelligence, but these are difficult to study in the open ocean where protective laws may apply, or in captivity, where access is constrained for commercial and safety reasons. From 1979 to 1980, however, we were able to interact with juvenile orcas in an unstructured way at San Diego’s SeaWorld facility. We observed in the animals what appeared to be pranks, tests of trust, limited use of tactical deception, emotional self-control, and empathetic behaviors. Our observations were consistent with those of a former Seaworld trainer, and provide important insights into orca cognition, communication, and social intelligence. However, after being trained as performers within Seaworld’s commercial entertainment program, a number of orcas began to exhibit aggressive behaviors. The orcas who previously established apparent friendships with humans were most affected, although significant aggression also occurred in some of their descendants, and among the orcas they lived with. Such oceanaria confinement and commercial use can no longer be considered ethically defensible, given the current understanding of orcas’ advanced cognitive, social, and communicative capacities, and of their behavioral needs.
Animals2016, 6(8), 48; doi:10.3390/ani6080048 - published 16 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Top-predators around the world are becoming increasingly intertwined with humans, sometimes causing conﬂict and increasing safety risks in urban areas. In Australia, dingoes and dingo×domesticdoghybridsarecommoninmanyurbanareas,andposeavarietyofhumanhealth and safety risks. However, data on urban dingo ecology is scant. We GPS-collared 37 dingoes in north-easternAustraliaandcontinuouslymonitoredthemeach30minfor11–394days. Mostdingoes were nocturnal, with an overall mean home range size of 17.47 km2. Overall mean daily distance travelled was 6.86 km/day. At all times dingoes were within 1000 m of houses and buildings. Home ranges appeared to be constrained to patches of suitable vegetation fragments within and around human habitation. These data can be used to reallocate dingo management effort towards mitigating actual conﬂicts between humans and dingoes in urban areas.
Animals2016, 6(8), 46; doi:10.3390/ani6080046 - published 3 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Quantity discrimination is a basic form of numerical competence where an animal distinguishes which of two amounts is greater in size. Whilst quantity discrimination in rats has been investigated via training paradigms, rats’ natural quantity discrimination abilities without explicit training for a desired response have not been explored. This study investigated domestic rats’ ability to perform quantity discrimination. Domestic rats ( n = 12) were examined for their ability to distinguish the larger amount under nine quantity comparisons. One-sample t -tests identified a significant preference for the larger quantity in comparisons of 1 vs. 2, 2 vs. 3, 3 vs. 5, 3 vs. 8, 4 vs. 6, and 4 vs. 8. No preference between quantities was found for comparisons of 3 vs. 4, 4 vs. 5 and 5 vs. 6. Overall, this study drew two key conclusions. Firstly, that domestic rats are capable of performing quantity discrimination without extensive training. Secondly, as subjects adhered to Weber’s law, it was concluded that the approximate number system underpins domestic rats’ ability to perform spontaneous quantity discrimination.
Animals2016, 6(8), 47; doi:10.3390/ani6080047 - published 3 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Acute laminitis is a common equine disease characterized by intense foot pain, both acutely and chronically. The Obel grading system is the most widely accepted method for describing the severity of laminitis by equine practitioners, however this method requires movement (walk and trot) of the horse, causing further intense pain. The recently developed Horse Grimace Scale (HGS), a facial-expression-based pain coding system, may offer a more effective means of assessing the pain associated with acute laminitis. The aims of this study were: to investigate whether HGS can be usefully applied to assess pain associated with acute laminitis in horses at rest, and to examine if scoring HGS using videos produced similar results as those obtained from still images. Ten horses, referred as acute laminitis cases with no prior treatment, were included in the study. Each horse was assessed using the Obel and HGS (from images and videos) scales: at the admission (before any treatment) and at seven days after the initial evaluation and treatment. The results of this study suggest that HGS is a potentially effective method to assess pain associated with acute laminitis in horses at rest, as horses showing high HGS scores also exhibited higher Obel scores and veterinarians classified them in a more severe painful state. Furthermore, the inter-observer reliability of the HGS total score was good for both still images and video evaluation. There was no significant difference in HGS total scores between the still images and videos, suggesting that there is a possibility of applying the HGS in clinical practice, by observing the horse for a short time. However, further validation studies are needed prior to applying the HGS in a clinical setting.
Animals2016, 6(8), 45; doi:10.3390/ani6080045 - published 2 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Current recommendations for the use of CO 2 as a euthanasia agent for rats require the use of gradual fill protocols (such as 10% to 30% volume displacement per minute) in order to render the animal insensible prior to exposure to levels of CO 2 that are associated with pain. However, exposing rats to CO 2 , concentrations as low as 7% CO 2 are reported to cause distress and 10%–20% CO 2 induces panic-associated behavior and physiology, but loss of consciousness does not occur until CO 2 concentrations are at least 40%. This suggests that the use of the currently recommended low flow volume per minute displacement rates create a situation where rats are exposed to concentrations of CO 2 that induce anxiety, panic, and distress for prolonged periods of time. This study first characterized the response of male rats exposed to normoxic 20% CO 2 for a prolonged period of time as compared to room air controls. It demonstrated that rats exposed to this experimental condition displayed clinical signs consistent with significantly increased panic-associated behavior and physiology during CO 2 exposure. When atmospheric air was then again delivered, there was a robust increase in respiration rate that coincided with rats moving to the air intake. The rats exposed to CO 2 also displayed behaviors consistent with increased anxiety in the behavioral testing that followed the exposure. Next, this study assessed the behavioral and physiologic responses of rats that were euthanized with 100% CO 2 infused at 10%, 30%, or 100% volume per minute displacement rates. Analysis of the concentrations of CO 2 and oxygen in the euthanasia chamber and the behavioral responses of the rats suggest that the use of the very low flow volume per minute displacement rate (10%) may prolong the duration of panicogenic ranges of ambient CO 2 , while the use of the higher flow volume per minute displacement rate (100%) increases agitation. Therefore, of the volume displacement per minute rates evaluated, this study suggests that 30% minimizes the potential pain and distress experienced by the animal.