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University LINKs Scheme

University of Stirling (UK)

Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith

Dr Clare Andrews
Psychology Division, Faculty of Natural Science
Email: clare.andrews@stir.ac.uk







Best undergraduate dissertation on animal welfare award

The University of Stirling awards an annual prize to recognise the best undergraduate dissertation on animal welfare – which is supported by the LINK scheme.

This year there were joint winners: Ainsley Barrie for her thesis entitled “Environmental context of images on animal welfare and the perception of an animal’s conservation status and associated conservation behaviours” and Georgia Precious for her thesis “The impact of the public on captive giraffe welfare: social networks, behaviours and space use.”

Ainsley Barrie (right, pictured with Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith)







Georgia Precious (pictured right, with Professor Phyllis Lee)

April 2019

To a packed seminar room, containing interested staff and students from a number of departments at Stirling and keepers, animal trainers and others from Blair Drummond Safari Park, Dr Sabrina Brando, the first Director of Animal Welfare of the World Association (WAZA) of Zoos and Aquariums, gave a talk at Stirling on animal welfare, the WAZA Animal Welfare Strategy and her role in promoting positive welfare for animals. Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith, who arranged the talk, which took place in April, writes ‘Usually our seminars have about 30 minutes of discussion following them, but Sabrina was still engaged in conversation with people nearly two hours after her presentation had ended!! It was a really good networking event too, and a real buzz and excitement about how we can work together to move forward the animal welfare agenda.’


Pictured: Sabrina Brando and Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith





Each year, to recognise the best undergraduate dissertation on animal welfare, the University of Stirling awards a prize – supported by the LINK scheme. This year it went to Lydia Vaux, for her thesis entitled ‘Visitor Effects on Enclosure Preference and Behaviour in a Captive African Elephant at Blair Drummond Safari Park’ for which she was awarded a first class grade. Lydia has also been a regular participant at Stirling’s Behaviour and Evolution Research group meetings -also supported by the UFAW LINK scheme, and hopes to continue her career in this field.


Photo of UFAW prize winner Lydia Vaux, with her supervisor Professor Phyllis Lee.








Winner of the 2018 UFAW research prize, Kirsty-Marie Moran, a taught postgraduate student in the MSc degree in Human Animal Interactions at the University of Stirling, standing by her poster on Mobile Animal Experiences in Scotland.



In September, UFAW was pleased to support the attendance of Jo White at Stirling to talk on ‘Sustainable animal welfare through human behaviour change” as part of the regular programme of seminars run by the Behaviour and Ecology Research Group at the university.

Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith, who organised the event writes: “The root cause of animal welfare problems is human behaviour; people doing, or not doing certain care or management practices. To a packed seminar room, with several external colleagues in the audience, Jo White of Human Behaviour Change for Animals described how traditional approaches to improving animal welfare have focussed on providing a service, such as accessible veterinary treatment, running educational projects, or campaigning for people to change their habits.

The tide is turning. The animal welfare sector has recently started to turn to social sciences to better understand human behaviour, and how to apply that understanding in the planning and implementation of projects and campaigns. Jo argued, convincingly, that through the use and development of established evidence-based models and interventions that drive human behaviour change (HBC), sustainable improvements to animal welfare can be delivered.

She described how HBC can be considered in four pillars: the process of change (e.g. models of change including the trans-theoretical model outlining stages of change in individuals, the theory of change planning tool, and the Behaviour Change Wheel); the psychology of change (exploring motivation, external and internal influences, barriers, habits/routines, beliefs, attitude and group psychology); the environment for change (e.g. social marketing); and ownership of change (e.g. using participatory methods to facilitate change).

Jo argued that we will struggle to be effective at sustainably improving animal welfare without better application of the science of why humans do and don’t do behaviours that impact on animals. We need to understand HBC. She concluded by describing the exciting opportunities that lie in developing knowledge, expertise and new research, to enable the application of an evidence-based approach to HBC in animal welfare.”

Professor Buchanan-Smith concluded by indicating that there was a lively and lengthy discussion with colleagues and students about how everyone can contribute to this change and thanking UFAW for its support..


‘Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa, a distinguished Professor at the University of
Kyoto, Japan, delivered a seminar at the University of Stirling on 16th
March, sponsored by UFAW. We welcomed colleagues from far and wide to hear a
fascinating and very engaging presentation entitled “"SAGA: An attempt to
promote the welfare of chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates in Japan".
Matsuzawa described, using many video clips, the cognitive abilities of
chimpanzees. In 2007 all biomedical research on chimpanzees ceased
completely in Japan, thanks in part to extensive support from the public.
Matsuzawa described how they had spent the past 10 years seeking to improve
captive conditions for chimpanzees.  They introduced new research facilities
at Kyoto University that consist of an outdoor compound with high climbing
frames and naturalistic fauna, as well as large adjoining enclosures that
allow us to simulate the fission-fusion parties characteristic of wild
chimpanzees. His talk summarized his own efforts in research, conservation,
education, and social outreach concerning chimpanzees and other nonhuman
primates, with a special focus on welfare issues.’ Professor Hannah


On Wednesday, after giving a wonderful talk about his dissertation research,
undergraduate student Kieran Lee was presented with the UFAW student
research prize by Prof Hannah Buchanan-Smith, supported via the UFAW LINK
scheme. Kieran received this award for his dissertation research on auditory
enrichment with chimpanzees at Blair Drummond Safari Park and for his
outstanding contribution to BERG during his undergraduate degree.
Congratulations Kieran!


With support from the LINK scheme, the Behaviour and Evolution Research Group (BERG) at Stirling runs an annual seminar series.

Professor Buchanan-Smith reports on these:

‘These seminars regularly attract colleagues from local animal collections as well as staff, post-graduates and undergraduate students from several Scottish Universities. BERG seminars are always well attended, and whilst the seminar speakers are obviously the main draw, the warm welcome we are able to afford through UFAW sponsorship, means we attract and retain newcomers, and the discussions that follow the seminars often continue for a considerable time.

This warm welcome allows real relationships to build, and there have been some important spin offs, that I have no doubt UFAW’s support for these has contributed to, for example, staff from Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park  becoming fully engaged with BERG, and the opportunities we offer in terms of access to researchers. Safari Park staff regularly attend our meetings – sometimes to hear the results of research that our students have done on welfare-related issues at the Safari Park, but often out of general interest in behaviour and welfare.’

Some of the speakers that have contributed to these seminars include:

  • Chris Lucas (Blair Drummond Safari Park) – “Our elephants and sustainability management “.
  • Clare Andrews (Edinburgh) “Pain in fish? Behavioural and physiological responses to fin clipping in zebrafish”.
  • Hayley Ash – “How breeding and rearing practices affect welfare in the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus)”.
  • Debra Lynn – “Reward sensitivity and welfare in laboratory-housed beagles”.
  • Mark Jones (Howletts and Port Lympne) entitled “Hanging about at enclosures: Enrichment to prolong foraging AND visitor stay time”;
  • Alasdair Gillies, Head primate keeper at Blair Drummond Safari Park talking about “Chimpanzee welfare”
  • Professor Phyllis Lee speaking on “Babies as welfare? Concerns over the ethics of captive breeding of wild animals”.
  • Ruth Sonnweber (University of Vienna) – “The luxury of focused grooming: female Barbary macaques exhibit rank-dependent grooming strategies to alleviate physiological stress load”
  • Debra Lynn – “Measuring emotional behaviour in animals: Behavioural pharmacology to animal welfare science”
  • Laura Hall – “A welfare assessment framework for laboratory-housed beagles”
  • Hannah Buchanan-Smith – “Feeling good; Assessment and importance of primate health and welfare”

Prizes are also awarded to final year students to reflect their sustained and important contributions to BERG meetings and their contribution to animal welfare through their research.

Previous winners:


Suzanne Ruby for her research entitled “An investigation into the effects of individual cubicle research on the social interactions and individual behaviours of brown capuchin monkeys (Sapajus apella)”

Jennifer Graham for her research entitled “The effects of enclosure on the welfare of Blair Drummond elephants”.


Louis Osman for his project on “Rumination and stereotypy in captive giraffes in response to seasonal housing changes”

Lee Simpson for his project entitled “The invisible pride: using vocalisation playbacks as enrichment for captive lions, Panthera leo”. Both of these students have applied for MSc programmes to continue to work in animal behaviour and welfare.


Lynne Crow worked on a dissertation entitled “Behaviour and reproductive cycles of female white rhinoceros in captivity”

Laura Marshall for her dissertation “The Effect of Captive Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Introductions on Displacement Behaviours and Grooming Patterns”.


Laura Hall for her dissertation “Assessing the impact of human interaction on the welfare and rehoming potential of shelter dogs (Canis familiaris)”

Sophia Daoudi for her dissertation “The effects of visitors and weather on the use of indoor and outdoor enclosures by brown lemurs (Eulemur fulvus) at the Blair Drummond Safari Park”.


Rebecca Leonardi for her dissertation Living Together: Behaviour and welfare in single and mixed species groups of capuchin and squirrel monkeys”.

Amongst other activities, in 2013 both Laura Hall and Hannah Buchanan-Smith ran the Edinburgh 10km to raise funds for UFAW. We raised over £350 for UFAW – see http://www.justgiving.com/Laura-Hall8