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Special Session: Progress in Assessing Animal Welfare in Relation to New Legislation: Opportunities for Behavioural Researchers

Date:  Friday August 31

Organised by: Penny Hawkins (RSPCA, UK).


The need for effective assessment and retrospective review of laboratory animal welfare,  including recognition of pain, suffering or distress, is recognized in many laws and  guidelines that regulate animal use. For example, the US Institute for Laboratory Animal  Research (ILAR) Guide emphasizes the importance of post-approval monitoring that  includes regular review of adverse effects, and the new European Union (EU) Directive that  regulates laboratory animal care and use requires retrospective assessment and reporting  of the level of suffering experienced by animals.

Accurately recognizing, recording, analyzing and reporting animal behaviors are all  important in order to conduct a proper retrospective assessment of the level and nature of  suffering, and behavioral researchers are clearly in an especially good position regarding  the ability to achieve this. They have also contributed greatly to our knowledge of behaviors  associated with negative states, such as discomfort, pain, anxiety and distress – and  positive wellbeing – in a wide range of species, as well as to the development of accessible  techniques for observing and monitoring animals. Increased dialogue between behavioral  researchers and those working in other fields would therefore be helpful in improving the  standard of assessments of laboratory animal behavior. The outcome would be not only  better animal welfare, but also better science, as it is now very widely recognised that  avoidable suffering can lead to experimental confounds, for example due to physiological  responses to stress.

This symposium will explore how researchers using and developing behavioral recognition  and monitoring techniques are contributing towards improving the understanding and  interpretation of animal behavior, particularly relating to the assessment of animal welfare  and suffering.


10:00   Progress in Assessing Animal Welfare in Relation to New Legislation:  Opportunities for Behavioral Researchers
  Penny Hawkins 
  Research Animals Department, RSPCA, Southwater, United Kingdom.

10:20  Automated Assessment of Animal Health and Wellbeing
  J.E. van der Harst, and B.M. Spruijt
  Delta Phenomics BV, Utrecht, The Netherlands. 
  Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherland.

10:40  Coffee break

11:10  The Assessment of Pain using Facial Expressions in Laboratory Rodents
  Matt Leach
  University of Newcastle, Newcastle, United Kingdom.

11:30  Monitoring Burrowing and Nest Building Behavior as Species-specific Indicators 
  of Animal Wellbeing
  Paulin Jirkof 
  University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.

11:50  Measuring Behavioral Changes to Assess Anthropogenic Noise Impact in Adult  Zebrafish (Danio rerio)
  Hans Slabbekoorn
  University of Leiden, Leiden, The Netherlands.

12:10  Recognising and Assessing Positive Welfare: Developing Positive Indicators for  Use in Welfare Assessment
  Wanda McCormick 
  Moulton College, Moulton, Northampton, United Kingdom. 
  This presentation is sponsored by Noldus Information Technology. However, the  content of the presentation is independent of Noldus IT.

12:30  End of session