Email of the week

11 05 2019

From Big Emma, as she look to see if husbandry variables covary with any aspect of natural foraging in our Carnivora database (and we’re very much hoping not…)

Re: Moving forward with the paper!

Partial group pic

9 05 2019


Happy at the end of a long day of symposium yesterday: L to R, Misha, Lindsey, Aimee, Aileen and Michelle (Andrea having vanished by now, and Sam limped home for a very well-deserved 12 or 14 hour sleep).

Mason Lab runs the April 24th ‘Behaviour Group’

9 05 2019

Behind as ever (still failing to write up ABS from 2017!), but 2-3 weeks ago, in the very last week of the semester (the profs and their groups take it in turns, rotating alphabetically by surname), it was my lab’s time to handle “Behaviour Group” .  It was a bit of a scramble as we didn’t quite decide what to do ’til a few days before, I was still trying to get all my marking in by the deadline (c. 35 lit reviews – see the Festive Door of Freedom below, plus 20 blogs and 20 ‘Three Minutes theses’), and it was touch and go whether I’d accidentally turn up on the day still wearing my slippers and nightguard.

But the topic we chose — the CCAC’s draft Animal Assessment Guidelines — was interesting enough that we could create a lot of stimulating material, and it triggered so much discussion that we didn’t even get through all our plans. The questions we pulled out were: is it simply sensible to equate welfare with feelings, or might this alienate those still cleaving to the ‘Three Circles’? (me); if welfare indicators should have construct validity, then how exactly should we validate them? (Aimee); if lab animals should have positive affect, what are the potential indicators of this, and how do we know? (Misha); and if we need indicators of ‘cumulative welfare’ to track a lifetime’s experience, then, again, where do these come from and how can we ensure they’re valid? (Andrea).  Sam, Lindsey and Michelle acted as wingmen, candy-buyers and sounding boards as we prepped, and everyone did a bloody fantastic job. (And thanks to wangling a little extension, I even managed to write our comments up for the CCAC and send them in today!)



Oakland’s new outfit

19 04 2019

He doesn’t seem entirely certain about his new outfit, but hey, I love it: one of several gifts Andrea and I gleefully bought Oakland from the ever-wonderful Nippaz with Attitude.


One degree of separation from Jane Goodall

15 04 2019

My amazing friend Sarah got to meet Jane Goodall on Friday, thanks to a friend of hers who’d worked at one of the chimp sanctuaries; so while some of us finished our supper before the lecture (which turned out to be strangely in support of OVC Pet Trust rather than anything conservation-related), Sarah got to hang out with this icon. (P.S. Incidentally, apparently the whole ‘six degrees of separation’ idea — that that’s what separates us from everyone — may be a myth).




Birthday group meeting rolls round again!

15 04 2019


I swear these are recurring faster and faster… Thanks to my lovely, lovely group for a fun lunch and (AGAIN!) inspired presents (this time The Hidden Life of Trees, and Allowed to Grow Old [no not about me, about elderly farm animals living in sanctuaries]). Left to right are Andrea (finally back from California!), Misha, Michelle, Lindsey, Aimee, Emma (not a student any more, but she can’t keep away), me and Sam. Then we went back to the department for an hour of “speciesism“: a thought provoking discussion, just for us, skillfully led by Melisa Choubak from UoG’s Centre for Cross Cultural Research


Becca Frank’s visit

10 04 2019

Dr. Becca Franks came to give the last CSAW seminar of the semester a couple of weeks ago (the series which started with Megan LaFollette, and later included Cass Tucker and Charlotte Winder). It was a really fun visit. First off we drove into the countrybecca_franksside to meet Rich Moccia at the Alma Aquaculture Station; then, with just enough time for her to warm up, she gave her seminar: a unusual combination of scholarly insights into the welfare importance of positive affect, and compelling videos of fish doing what really does seem to be play.

In the evening my lab took her out to Baker Street for a drink (Gwen and Misha bringing their baby, making this Oakland’s first pub outing), followed by vegan food at Cadence. The next day Michelle and Matt Cornish showed her round Hagen Aqualab; and then we met for a quick coffee, and it was back to New York for Becca! I hoping her and Michelle get more time together in Norway for the ISAE.