Larry the Downing Street Cat

21 11 2018

Cute video (just don’t listen to the commentary in the background: too depressing)



And on the topic of the UK’s self-destruction, my uncle emailed me this morning:


R is for Retirement

19 11 2018

There’s a lovely story in the Globe and Mail this week, about a new initiative to move research monkeys to a sanctuary instead of killing them when their lab life is over. Andrea suggests that ‘Retirement’ could be yet another R  (R. No. 5?).

I think I don’t think that killing animals is actually wrong, as long as it causes them and their companions or family members no suffering. (After all our difficult reading about killing  a few years ago, I seemed to end up where I started, kind of anchored there by my views on abortion).  But if we adopt research animals out to better homes, we can increase the overall quality of their lives which can only be a good thing.  The fact that this is often really quite difficult (more complicated than just killing them) might make people think harder about reducing research animal numbers too.  And with my scientist’s hat on, it’s interesting to see who will be resilient and recuperated by their new homes, who won’t be, and why (something we’ve dabbled in in my lab, with Jamie’s work on bears in China and mink in Michigan, and Sarah-Lee Tilly’s terrific research on aging mice). Meanwhile, enjoy the blissful picture below:

Screenshot 2018-11-19 12.54.40

Dead rhino tragedy

6 11 2018

Such a sorry tale of poor animal welfare and wasted money — translocated black rhinos apparently starving to death in their new location:–two-more-black-rhinos-died-after-transfer-to-chad-.ryfpt-JpX.html

Screenshot 2018-11-06 09.36.35


Fish pain debate

6 11 2018

Rather unsatisfying “The Current” this morning: one researcher argues that fish feel pain, but squirms at the word emotion; the other argues they don’t feel pain — being from a school that fish aren’t sentient — but that we should still care about their welfare anyway; and neither stance makes much sense. The truth is we don’t really know whether fish feel pain: it’d need some really clever experiments to find out. (And what we do with that doubt in the meantime — treat fish as though they do? treat them as though they don’t? — is a seriously tricky issue). Steven Cooke’s valid point about HARK-ing is a great warning to all welfare researchers though, whatever species they work with.

The Current

Nice recognition for me

24 10 2018

Thanks so much to the students (past and present) who nominated me!

Screenshot 2018-10-24 18.32.33

Waterloo prof: third ever woman to win a Nobel!

3 10 2018



Papa Goose

25 09 2018

Cute interview just now on the BBC just now with a scientist who had young geese imprint on him and his microlight (and has just written a book about the experience).