Bronx Zoo tiger tested positive for COVID-19. What does it mean?

Here at CAWSEL we’ve gathered some facts about the recent news confirming that Nadiaa, a Malayan tiger at Bronx Zoo in New York has tested positive for COVID-19.
The news was covered world wide in publications such as National Geographic, BBC News, The New York Times to name but a few. From information gathered via One Health and through research, CAWSEL Ambassador Tara Gaab, has collated the presently known facts:
Different tiger pictured. Photo form Pixabay
  • This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in an animal in the US. Though all species of animals have their own versions of coronavirus that result in a variety of clinical signs, this is the first confirmed COVID-19 case specifically in an animal in the United States.
  • Multiple animals in the exhibit were reported to be exhibiting similar clinical signs, but only one animal was tested. Because the nature of the test requires the animal to be under anaesthesia, the veterinarians involved in this case felt that anesthetizing every animal with clinical signs was an unnecessary potential risk to their welfare, so only one tiger was tested and subsequently confirmed positive.
  • It’s likely that these animals were exposed to the virus by a zoo worker who was actively shedding the virus.
  • This does NOT mean that animals can give COVID-19 to humans. It also does NOT mean that every animal can be infected with COVID-19 by humans with the disease. Further research needs to be done on both fronts to determine those answers.
Subsequently, this does NOT mean that people need to be getting rid of/pre-emptively euthanizing their pets.
As a side-note, it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan for your pet(s) if you become sick and cannot take care of them. Reach out to family members, friends, neighbours & your veterinarian to make sure that someone will be able to care for your pet in the event that you cannot safely do so.
  • There will NOT be mass-testing of animals. If someone believes their animal is exhibiting signs that may indicated a COVID-19 infection (fever & dry cough are the two big ones), then they need to contact their veterinarian. The veterinarian must then contact their state animal health officials, and together they will decide if that animal needs to be tested.
Read the official USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Statement here:

Zoos go virtual!

A number of museums, galleries and zoos all over the world offer the opportunity for the larger audience to get a glimpse into the day to day life of their animals, witness their conservation projects or simply ‘wander around’ the virtual galleries. With social distancing and isolation in place across the world during these times of global pandemic, a large number of these organisations are closing their doors for the foreseeable future, but what better way to keep us busy than tapping into the stream of virtual engagement tools!
Here are a few such websites:

Insights from assessing the welfare of captive dolphins

Author: Dr Isabella Clegg, Animal welfare consultant at Animal Welfare Expertise
Since its inception, animal welfare science has continuously led to improvements in captive animal welfare and helped to clarify our legislation and ethical standpoints around the issues. The spread of welfare science from farms and laboratories to zoos has led to an exponential increase in welfare research on one of the most debated animal groups currently in captivity: dolphins.
There are around 2000 registered captive cetaceans around the world – predominantly dolphins (including killer whales) and belugas – and the number of facilities in places like China is rapidly increasing. This blog outlines the insights gained from dolphin welfare research so far.
Early research
In the years prior to around 2000, much research was carried out on captive dolphins on topics linked to welfare, but the term or principles were rarely considered. For example, stress hormones were studied (Thomson et al. 1986) and stress-related behaviours were described (e.g. stereotypic behaviour, Gygax 1993), but no welfare indicators were identified. Zoo animal welfare had only just started to be studied, and dolphin facilities were often slightly removed from zoos through their different functions and regulation, as well as public perception.
Initial welfare studies
By this point, conditions for captive dolphins in modern facilities were much improved from the last decades, the animals were living as long as their wild counterparts (Jaakkola & Willis 2019) and wild capture was no longer needed because of breeding successes. However, the industry started to face increasing pressure from activists and the public, fuelled by the media and ongoing unacceptable practices in less developed areas. This stimulated the captive facilities to engage with scientists and investigate the dolphins’ welfare more objectively, and from 2010 there was an exponential increase in studies asking questions about dolphin welfare.
Delfour & Beyer (2012) outlined how environmental enrichment should be applied to increase welfare, and Ugaz et al. (2013) found dolphins’ cortisol levels and likely welfare was higher in artificial pools as opposed to sea pens. 
Regular monitoring, especially of behaviour, is crucial to measuring and improving welfare. Photo credit: Beluga Whale Sanctuary
Farm animal welfare techniques were also applied to dolphins, such as the application by Clegg et al. (2015) of the well-established WelfareQuality® framework (2009a,b,c) to dolphins, proposing the first comprehensive welfare framework, called the C-Well©, for these animals. As for other animals, behavioural measures were found to be particularly relevant to overall dolphin welfare, especially since dolphins as prey species often mask symptoms of poor health.
Validating welfare indicators
As welfare studies on captive dolphins continued increasing, it became possible to start validating indicators by correlating multiple parameters. Two studies looked at how the environmental factor of noisy construction work impacts welfare: one study found that play behaviour decreased (Serres & Delfour 2017), and another found cortisol levels increased in response to the stressor (Monreal-Pawlowsky et al. 2017). Anticipatory behaviour (activity performed in preparation for an predictable upcoming event) has started to be investigated in terrestrial animals as a potential welfare indicator, and is proving to be a meaningful measure in captive dolphins, whose daily environments involves many predictable events. Anticipatory behaviour for positive events in dolphins manifests as behaviour such as ‘surface-looking’ and ‘spy-hopping’ (Jensen et al. 2013), and was used to understand the animals’ preference for different events. In a recent study, dolphins’ increased anticipatory behaviour suggested that they ‘looked forward’ to non-food interactions with familiar trainers, and more than toy enrichment (Clegg et al. 2018). These results highlight a few significant measures for dolphin welfare: whether the trainers offer interactions with the animals outside of food provision sessions, and whether the animals show affiliative behaviours towards them, indicating positive human-animal bonds (similarly important to terrestrial animal welfare).
Optimistic dolphins?
A dolphin touches a target as part of a cognitive bias test, an approach which has been valuable in identifying potential welfare indicators. Photo credit: Parc Astérix
One welfare test making waves in terrestrial animal research is investigating ‘cognitive bias’, which basically reveals whether animals make more optimistic or pessimistic judgements in uncertain situations (Mendl et al. 2009). Interestingly, animals that tend to judge optimistically are generally in better welfare, while those who are more pessimistic tend to be in poorer welfare.
With my co-authors, I tested cognitive bias in dolphins, and found that the most optimistic dolphins were those who conducted more affiliative behaviour, measured by the time spent swimming in synchrony. This suggests that providing the opportunity for positive social bonds is a key factor for good welfare in captive dolphins. I did a TEDx talk on the findings of this experiment and how it might even help us understand our own welfare! This is accessible here:
Welfare in the wild
Although there are different definitions, it is now generally accepted that welfare describes how an animal feels. It can therefore exist and apply to animals in the wild too. This can be beneficial for some conservation projects, since individual welfare data can sometimes be more meaningful for real-time threats than population-level parameters, and it also allows the public to empathise and connect with the issues (Beausoleil et al. 2019). Zoos have an important role in this new application of welfare science, as they are currently the only context where welfare research is conducted on wild animal species. Many of the welfare indicators developed so far for captive dolphins can be applied or adapted to their wild counterparts, such as measuring synchronous swimming behaviour, cortisol levels, rake mark coverage and body condition (Clegg et al. 2017).
The welfare of wild animals can also be measured, and can improve our conservation efforts in certain contexts. Photo credit: Patagonia Projects
Research on dolphin welfare has advanced significantly in the last few years, and is helping to improve the conditions for the animals as well as the quality of the debates around their existence in captivity. The dolphins’ welfare is just one aspect of the discussion, and needs to be combined with other equally important elements such as the purposes of keeping them for public display. Studies have started to identify the first indicators of dolphin welfare, such as cortisol levels, synchronous swimming, play, anticipatory behaviour, stereotypical behaviour, and positive human-animal bonds. Cognitive bias testing is a very useful tool for identifying dolphin welfare indicators, as it has been for other zoo and farm animals. More work is needed on the welfare indicators and their inter-individual variability, which will only come from captive facilities continuing to open their doors to researchers, coupled with a societal consensus to optimise the welfare of the animals already under our care.

Links and more info

Twitter: @izziclegg
Instagram: @thedolphindoctor
Animal Welfare Expertise, a consultancy helping to apply welfare science where it is most needed.
TEDx talk: Animals can teach us how to be happier: by being adaptable optimists
More info on animal optimists and pessimists:


Beausoleil, N. J., Mellor, D. J., Baker, L., Baker, S. E., Bellio, M., Clarke, A. S., … & Pitcher, B. J. (2018). ‘Feelings and Fitness’ not ‘Feelings or Fitness’–the raison d’être of Conservation Welfare, which aligns conservation and animal welfare objectives. Frontiers in veterinary science, 5, 296.
Clegg, I.L.K., Borger-Turner, J.., Eskelinen, H.., 2015. C-Well: The development of a welfare assessment index for captive bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Anim. Welf. 24, 267–282.
Clegg, I. L. K., Rödel, H. G., Boivin, X. & Delfour, F., 2018. Looking forward to interacting with familiar humans: dolphins’ anticipatory behaviour indicates their motivation to participate in specific events. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 22, 85-93
Clegg, I. L. K., van Elk, C. E., & Delfour, F. (2017). Applying welfare science to bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Animal Welfare, 26, 165-176.
Clegg, I. L. K., Rödel, H. G. & Delfour, F. (2017). Bottlenose dolphins engaging in more social affiliative behaviour judge ambiguous cues more optimistically. Behavioural Brain Research, 322, 115-122.
Delfour, F., Beyer, H., 2012. Assessing the effectiveness of environmental enrichment in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Zoo Biol. 31, 137–150.
Gygax, L., 1993. Spatial movement patterns and behaviour of two captive bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): absence of stereotyped behaviour or lack of definition? Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 38, 337–344.
Jaakkola, K., & Willis, K., 2019. How long do dolphins live? Survival rates and life expectancies for bottlenose dolphins in zoological facilities vs. wild populations. Marine Mammal Science. Early view,
Jensen, A.-L.M., Delfour, F., Carter, T., 2013. Anticipatory behavior in captive bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): a preliminary study. Zoo Biol. 32, 436–44.
Mendl, M., Burman, O., Parker, R.M.A., Paul, E.S., 2009. Cognitive bias as an indicator of animal emotion and welfare: Emerging evidence and underlying mechanisms. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 118, 161–181.
Monreal-Pawlowsky, T., Carbajal, A., Tallo-Parra, O., Sabés-Alsina, M., Monclús, L., Almunia, J., … & Lopez-Bejar, M. 2017. Daily salivary cortisol levels in response to stress factors in captive common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): a potential welfare indicator. Veterinary Record, vetrec-2016.
Serres, A., Delfour, F., 2017. Environmental changes and anthropogenic factors modulate social play in captive bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus ). Zoo Biol. 36, 99–111.
Thomson, C.A., Geraci, J.R., 1986. Cortisol, Aldosterone, and Leucocytes in the Stress Response of Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 43, 1010–1016.
Ugaz, C., Valdez, R.A., Romano, M.C., Galindo, F., 2013. Behavior and salivary cortisol of captive dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) kept in open and closed facilities. J. Vet. Behav. Clin. Appl. Res. 8, 285–290.
Welfare Quality®, 2009a. Welfare Quality® Assessment protocol for cattle. Welfare Quality® Consortium: Lelystad, The Netherlands.
Welfare Quality®, 2009b. Welfare Quality® assessment protocol for pigs. Welfare Quality® Consortium: Lelystad, The Netherlands.
Welfare Quality®, 2009c. Welfare Quality® assessment protocol for poultry. Welfare Quality® Consortium: Lelystad, The Netherlands.

Is dehorning of cattle an outdated practice?

Author: Alice Oven, Senior Editor, Taylor & Francis Publishing and MSc student at University of Winchester
Dehorning of cattle is standard practice in modern farming systems, conducted to protect leather and meat products from damage. However, there are major welfare implications associated with both dehorning cattle and disbudding calves. This blog looks at the key issues and considers how the practice might be discouraged.
Physiological, neuroendocrine and behavioural evidence indicates that dehorning or disbudding cattle compromises welfare, especially when conducted without pain management. To disbud a calf, a 600 degree iron is pressed against the head to burn through the nerves and blood vessels that would allow the horn bud to develop (Pond, 2012). Excessive heat can damage the underlying bone (Kihurani et al, 1989). Alternatively, caustic paste may be used to chemically burn off the horn buds, making the pain easier to manage (when the burning paste does not run into the calf’s eyes) (Vickers et al, 2005). Dehorning of adult cattle increases risks of sinusitis, bleeding and infection (Hoffsis, 1995). On some occasions, crude instruments may be used to physically remove (gouge out) horns or buds, or wire employed to saw off horns (AVMA, 2014). Use of a local anaesthetic does not completely alleviate the pain for the adult cow nor calf for any of these methods, during or after surgery (Stafford and Mellor, 2005). The commonly used anaesthetic lidocaine, for instance, is only effective for up to three hours after administration.
Cauterising iron in action. Image by Dr Clive Dalton.
A cattle pen with carefully designed curved corridors
Refinements such as using combinations of drugs or cauterising the wound to dull the pain offer a partial solution but do not completely negate the welfare cost. Is there then an effective strategy to discourage the practice altogether? Enhanced human-animal relationships (HAR) might reduce danger of injury to handlers from horned cattle. Talking calmly can lower fear in the animal and agitation in the handler, while animals worked in groups are less easily stressed and panicked than individuals. Situations that cause cattle to refuse to move (and consequently injure themselves and their handler) can be avoided with specially designed chutes, smaller pens, consistent level flooring, sensitive lighting, curved alleyways with solid walls and padded equipment (Chastain, 2017).
For economic reasons, farmers have been traditionally resistant to using naturally polled (hornless) breeds because these cattle, particularly in dairy farming, are perceived as less productive. Polled beef bulls already demonstrate behaviour, growth, carcass quality and reproductive performance equivalent to their horned counterparts. Raising public awareness of explicitly inhumane practices like disbudding might counter losses by encouraging consumers to pay more for milk from polled cows. This means challenging consumer perception that dairy cow welfare is more positive than that of meat animals, a belief that have made addressing welfare issues in the dairy industry “considerably more challenging and vexatious than doing so in the beef industry” (Rollin, 2017). More recently, documentaries such as the BBC’s ‘The Dark Side of Dairy’ are helping to change this.
Another possibility is introducing the polled gene into productive breeds like Friesian and Celtic cattle. Many polled cows will carry a second horned allele (heterozygous polled) which they may pass down to their calves; however, new testing can identify cattle carrying two polled genes (homozygous polled) and guarantee that they can breed with horned cattle and still produce polled offspring. This test is now available at the University of Queensland and can be done cost-effectively as a ‘bundle’ which can be customised for each breed. Most traditional Hereford breeders have introduced the polled gene to their herds in response to commercial preferences: in 2017 77.8 percent of calves were born polled compared with 69.7 percent in 2016, a positive indicator of change.
Rose, a polled Hereford cow. Image by Cliff, 2008
It may even be plausible to speed up this process using genetic engineering. Recombinetics are fast forwarding selective breeding to create hornless Friesian dairy cows. The gene editing company is crossbreeding hornless mutations of beef cattle breeds such as the Angus and “turning off” the gene that provides for horns (Bloch, 2018). They are also developing castration-free swine that don’t go through puberty and heat-tolerant cattle for the Tropics. In the past, public fear and FDA regulations have prevented such animals from entering the food market: Annie, the first genetically modified cow was engineered in 2000 to be resistant to mastitis (a staph infection costing dairy farmers $1.7 billion a year) but public fears and government regulations prevented her from entering the food market (Bloch, 2018). It’s plausible that almost 20 years on the climate is changing, regulatory oversight potentially moving to the USDA1 and gene editing tools like CRISPR and TALEN removing the nightmarish connotations of ‘combining’ animals using transgenesis techniques of old. In this case, the immediate creation of hornless cattle might become viable.
To conclude, painful dehorning and disbudding of cattle is becoming an increasingly unnecessary practice, and can be avoided using more humane handling techniques and careful genetic selection for polled cows. In this instance, GE is actually offering a further opportunity to enhance animal welfare, but whether the public will accept this perceivably ‘unnatural’ intervention is yet to be seen.


AVMA (2014). Welfare Implications of Dehorning and Disbudding Cattle: Literature Review. Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2019].

Bengtsson B., Menzel A., Holtenius P., et al. (1996). Cryosurgical dehorning of calves: a preliminary study.  Veterinary Record, 138:234-237.

Bloch, S. (2018). Hornless Holsteins and Enviropigs: the genetically engineered animals we never knew. New Food Economy. Available at [Accessed 12 Oct. 2018].

Chastain, C.B. (2017). Animal Handling and Physical Restraint. Boca Raton, Fl.: CRC Press, 296.

Hoffsis G. (1995). Surgical (cosmetic) dehorning in cattle. Veterinary Clinics: Food Animal Practice, 11:159-169.

Kihurani D., Mbiuki S., Ngatia T. (1989). Healing of dehorning wounds. British Veterinary Journal, 145:580-585.

McDonald, A. (2018). Weekly genetics review: the elusive polled gene not so elusive. Beef Central. 16 Oct. Available at [Accessed 16 Oct. 2018].

Pond, W., Bazer, F. & Rollin, B. (2012). Animal Welfare in Animal Agriculture: Husbandry, Stewardship, and Sustainability in Animal Production, Second Edition, Boca Raton, Fl: CRC Press.

Rollin, B. (2017). Guest commentary: animal welfare in the dairy industry. AGWEB. Farm Journal. 04 Nov. Available at [Accessed 21 Nov. 2017].

Rollin, B. (1995). The Frankenstein Syndrome: Ethical and Social Issues in the Genetic Engineering of Animals, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Stafford K., Mellor D. (2005). Dehorning and disbudding stress and its alleviation in calves. Veterinary Journal, 169:337-349.

Vickers K., Niel L., Kiehlbauch L., et al. (2005). Calf response to caustic paste and hot-iron dehorning using sedation with and without local anesthetic. Journal of Dairy Science, 88:1545-1459.

1 In a statement released in February 2018, the National Pork Producers Council called for moving regulatory oversight of gene edited animals from FDA to a department of USDA that already regulates gene editing in plants.

About the author

Alice Oven is Senior Editor at Taylor & Francis Publishing and an MSc student at University of Winchester, commissioning Life Science and Veterinary books by day and studying for a degree in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law by night. Based in London, her blog hosts a range of articles and essays on animal rights and welfare, including pieces for Utility Farm, A-LAW, and IFAW.

You can follow Alice on Twitter at @Alice_Oven and on Instagram at @moonlolly.

Live Export Issues in Australia

Author: Dr Stephanie Hing, Animal Welfare Policy and Research Manager, RSPCA Western Australia and CAWSEL 2017 attendee


At CAWSEL 2017, we learnt about welfare concepts and assessment, ethics and livestock welfare and these are all very relevant to the current live export issues in Australia.

Live export is a live issue at the moment. Every year, millions of livestock are exported from Australia overseas including to the Middle East. Animal welfare concerns have long been held about conditions during the journeys and the treatment of animals in destination countries. The issues recently came to a head when disturbing footage taken by a whistle-blower aboard a live export vessel was aired on Australian television in April 2018. The footage showed sheep suffering unbearably and dying from heat stress on several voyages from the Australian winter to the Middle Eastern summer. On one voyage alone, over 4000 sheep died from heat stress. Australia as a nation recoiled in horror.

At the time of writing, the live export company in question has had their export licence suspended by the Australian Department of Agriculture and criminal investigations are underway at both a state and Federal level. Leaders from all political persuasions have promised action to address the unacceptable and unnecessary suffering of animals in live export.

Might we dare to hope for a future where atrocities such as those revealed in the Australian live export industry were no longer?

Community outreach – the implications and the powerful benefits!

Author: Dr Stephanie Hing, Animal Welfare Policy and Research Manager, RSPCA Western Australia and CAWSEL 2017 attendee


I’ve had the privilege of volunteering at community outreach days where RSPCA Inspectors, dog trainers and vet clinic staff join together with local council rangers and vet nursing students to help dogs belonging to people who may otherwise not be able to afford pet care. On offer is free advice about desexing and other aspects of dog care, microchipping, health checks, food, flea prevention, worming, leads and collars.

Some of the people who bring their dogs along to community outreach days are homeless, many are disadvantaged and the majority are dealing with hardships we can only imagine. In some cases, their dog is their only constant companion.

Though it may be easy to say, “don’t have a pet unless you can afford to pay for care”, to counter that view, I reflect on the effervescent Dr David Williams’ lecture at CAWSEL 2017. Dr Williams discussed his study of homeless people and their pets in Cambridge. Our local context differs to Cambridge particularly in that charity vet services are less readily available in comparison to the UK but it is still worthy of note that –

“In contradistinction to the negative view…we found that dogs owned by homeless people were healthy animals, less likely to be obese, had fewer behavioural issues…when compared to dogs owned by people living in a conventional home”
(Williams and Hogg 2016)


People from all walks of life love their dogs and care for them in different ways. After direct involvement in community outreach days, learning about homeless pet charity programs and lectures at CAWSEL 2017 about the human animal bond, it has become clear to me that if we want to improve animal welfare, it is more constructive to do what we can to help rather than judge.

ISAZ 2018 Conference: Animals in Our Lives

Author: Dr Anthony Podberscek, The University of Sydney


From 2nd to 5th July, 2018, the International Society for Anthrozoology held its annual conference in Sydney, Australia. I was one of the organizers, along with Dr Pauleen Bennett (LaTrobe University) and Dr Bradley Smith (Central Queensland University). Anthrozoology is the study of human–animal interaction, a multidisciplinary field, and the conference certainly covered many disciplines: anthropology, history, psychology, philosophy, sociology, medicine, veterinary science, and more.

There were seven fantastic plenary talks: “Dogs helping people in families, hospitals, colleges, and at work” (Sandra Barker); “Managing human–wildlife interactions: Conflicts and communication” (Neil Jordan); “Cultural connections: Understanding the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and animals, and the implications for delivery of dog health and community wellbeing programs in these communication” (Christine Ross and Ted Donelan); “Animals on screens: Thinking critically about animals, audiences and empathy” (Claire Parkinson); “Human–animal interactions in zoos: Balancing urban biophilia with species conservation” (Vicky Melfi); “Animals like us: Self and identity within the furry and therian communities” (Courtney Plante). As well, there were over 90 oral presentations, over 50 posters, and 11 symposia: a very full programme! People interested in animal welfare science, ethics and law would have found much to delight them: there were talks on the welfare of assistance animals, one welfare, farm animals, captive animals, ethics, and human–wildlife conflict.

A podcast of Sandra Barker’s plenary can be heard at:

The abstract book can be downloaded for free HERE.



‘Stop Puppy Farming’ reforms

Author: Dr Stephanie Hing, Animal Welfare Policy and Research Manager, RSPCA Western Australia and CAWSEL 2017 attendee


Attending CAWSEL 2017 and learning more about animal welfare concepts, principles of ethics in animal use and animal law, has further equipped me to work doggedly on reforms to improve animal welfare. One such area for reform is the regulation of dog breeding in our state.

Puppy farms, also known as puppy mills, are intensive dog breeding operations where dogs suffer unbearably in terrible conditions. Sadly, puppy farms have long been making headlines in different parts of the world including the UK and Australia. Though they may not all make the headlines, there are many dogs who are left with lifelong physical and emotional scars as a result of irresponsible and indiscriminate dog breeding more broadly. The emotional and financial toll on the dogs’ families is also profound. All too often, due to lack of regulation in the dog breeding industry, the people responsible are not held accountable. This must change. Governments around the world are introducing laws to regulate dog breeding and improve the welfare of dogs.

Since attending CAWSEL 2017, on behalf of the organisation I work for, I have been providing input on proposed ‘Stop Puppy Farming’ reforms in our state. The four main components of the reforms include:
(1) a centralised state database for dog breeders
(2) desexing of dogs (unless they belong to a breeder on the centralised state database)
(3) pet shops only able to rehome dogs via accredited rescue organisations and
(4) mandatory animal welfare standards for dogs.
Together, these reforms aim to increase traceability and accountability in dog breeding, reduce over-breeding and the number of dogs in shelters, interrupt the supply chains fuelling puppy farming and improve dog welfare overall.

Hopefully together, we can make legal history for dogs. The ‘Stop Puppy Farming’ reforms in Western Australia are currently out for public consultation until August 3:


In search of health and ‘hoppiness’!

CAWSEL Ambassador and PhD Candidate at Murdoch University, Jess Rendle shares insight into her PhD work


Kangaroos and wallabies, collectively known as macropods, are found in zoos all over the world. But, for reasons that are not yet clear, these animals suffer with a condition that seriously affects their welfare – ‘lumpy jaw’. Lumpy jaw is a bacterial infection of the oral cavity that is distinguished by characteristic proliferation of the jawbones.The condition is painful, difficult to treat, and often results in the death of the animal. Lumpy jaw is frequently found in zoo macropods, but is rare in the wild. It is therefore suggested that aspects of macropod captivity may be associated with the occurrence of lumpy jaw.

My PhD is investigating the extent of the lumpy jaw problem in zoos across Australia and Europe, where macropods are popular exhibits. I am also investigating aspects of macropod housing and husbandry that may influence the development of this painful condition. Results from this research will be used to develop new husbandry guidelines for the care of macropods with the aim of reducing incidence of lumpy jaw and subsequently improving the health and welfare of one of Australia’s most iconic species.


If you would like to discuss her work or any aspect of CAWSEL, contact Jess via email:


What is CAWSEL All About?


Described in the past as “animal welfare boot camp”, CAWSEL is only but a remarkable and professionally developed range of courses aimed at providing attendees with a broad appreciation of animal welfare science, ethics and law. Four individual courses merge under the umbrella of CAWSEL and tackle a vast array of topics, such as: Welfare Concepts & Assessment, and Zoo Animal Welfare; Law, Companion Animal and Horse Welfare; Principles of Ethics in Relation to Animal Use and Farm Animal Welfare.

The decades long legacy of CAWSEL is a testimony to its valuable content and the individuals it brings together. Veterinarians, vet nurses, animal welfare and animal science researchers, students and animal charity workers and campaigners from every corner of the world come together for two weeks every year in mid-September, to hear from leading experts and learn through a combination of lectures, discussions and videos.

15 of the world’s experts in animal welfare, eminent academics, researchers, professionals and pioneers in the filed deliver the ever changing and up-to-date material, sharing knowledge and experiences to better equip attendees to improve the lives of animals.

Professor Emeritus Donald Broom (Cambridge University) delivers a large part of the Courses. Donald was appointed the first Professor of Animal Welfare in the world in the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge in 1986 and, although now retired, is still a driving force in the field, writing papers and books and presenting around the world.

Course organiser, Dr Anthony Podberscek, teaches on the subject of companion animal during Course 2 of CAWSEL. After receiving a PhD from University of Queensland, Anthony became post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge and is now back ‘down under’ as affiliate of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney. For the past 21 years Anthony has been editor-in-chief of Anthrozoös.

Although he recognises that advances in technology have led to courses increasingly being taught online, Anthony is proud that: “CAWSEL bucks the trend and continues to bring everyone together – enthusiastic students and teachers – in one real and beautiful place, Cambridge”.

Nothing describes the impact and importance of CAWSEL better than 2017 attendee Stephanie Hing, (RSPCA Western Australia): “We ran the gauntlet of issues, navigated the research landscape and scaled the highs and lows of legal and ethical frameworks. We went in as passionate and driven individuals. We have emerged even more galvanised, armed with greater understanding and skills. CAWSEL has equipped us to tackle animal welfare issues thoroughly and systematically.”


Have we convinced you yet? If not, there’s much more to explore on our official website: or you could always get in touch by emailing We would love to hear from you!