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University LINKs Scheme

Plumpton College (UK) 


Dr Amber de Vere
Dept of Animal Management
Email: amber.devere@plumpton.ac.uk





Seminar Series: Priorities in Animal Welfare

This year the UFAW LINK scheme supported two speakers in visiting Plumpton College to present their research on animal welfare topics to the undergraduate students, as part of a regular seminar series.

In January, Dr Isabella Clegg visited the Plumpton College undergraduate animal students to present her research on dolphin welfare. Dr Clegg’s research includes the development of a standardised and easy-to-implement welfare assessment for use in zoos and aquariums, which she is also extending to assess the welfare of wild dolphins. Dr Clegg now runs an animal welfare consultancy, and is now involved in a variety of international projects, including the Icelandic beluga whale sea sanctuary. She discussed the utility of validating practical welfare assessments that can be conducted by animal care staff, and the potential scope for such assessments to be applied to wild animals.

For March’s International Women’s Day, Dr Liz Paul travelled from the University of Bristol, where she is a senior research fellow, to speak to undergraduate animal, veterinary nursing, and equine students as our second seminar speaker. Dr Paul has researched animal welfare and emotions for over 20 years, spanning species including chickens, dogs, rats, and pigs. Students were particularly interested to hear Dr Paul discuss what cognitive bias tests can reveal about affective states given the great range of species to which they have been successfully applied, including invertebrates such as bees.


Marine Mammal Medic Training Course:

In February, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue delivered a Marine Mammal Medic Training Course at the college. Undergraduate animal students had the opportunity to learn how to identify the various seal, dolphin, and whale species that can be found in UK waters, as well as learning about the problems that can be faced during marine mammal rescues. Students also had the opportunity to learn the practical skills required to rescue seals, dolphins, and large whales stranded on land. This includes a system of inflatable posts for large whales, as these animals can weigh over 1,000 kilos! All students who undertook the day’s training were successful in achieving medic certificates, which qualifies them to participate in BDMLR-run marine mammal rescue operations nationwide for the next year.

Undergraduate Animal Welfare Research Project Award 2019

The LINK Scheme supported a research project award, for the undergraduate student whose dissertation had the greatest potential implications for improving animal welfare. This year, the award was presented to Daisy Sopel, a year 3 BSc student, for her project entitled ‘Is enclosure size associated with the behaviour and activity of captive tigers (Panthera tigris)?’ Daisy’s project was also awarded a first class honours grade.

Other projects considered for the award included an experimental assessment of the behavioural effects of odour-based enrichment in rats, and a study of links between personality and conspecific interactions in cats.