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New tool to monitor wellbeing of captive elephants
The tool is helping zookeepers to monitor the impact of changes in animal husbandry.

Method already in use at captive elephant facilities across the UK

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed a tool to help zookeepers monitor the wellbeing of elephants in their care.

The Elephant Behavioural Welfare Assessment tool is the culmination of research published in PLOS ONE and allows keepers to track the welfare of individual elephants based on their demeanour and welfare.

The tool is already in use at captive elephant facilities across the UK, helping keepers to monitor the impact of changes in animal husbandry and develop facilities that are designed to enhance animal welfare.

Zoo and wildlife medicine lecturer Dr Lisa Yon, who led the research, said: “Our new tool provides, for the first time, a reliable way for people looking after captive elephants to use the elephants’ behaviours to monitor their welfare over time.”

The tool is to be completed by the keeper and consists of four one-minute live observational assessments, daytime behaviour questions and nighttime observations.

It was initially tested at five elephant holding facilities in the UK on a total of 29 elephants - representing alomst half of the total UK captive population at the time.

Based on the testing results, the finalised Elephant Behavioural Welfare Assessment tool was developed and is now included in the Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice Guidelines as a routine part of the welfare assessment of captive elephants across the UK.

Researchers suggest that a similar method could also be employed for other species in zoos and aquariums.

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Wales to ban third party puppy and kitten sales

News Story 1
 The Welsh Government has said it will ban third party sales of puppies and kittens, after a consultation showed overwhelming public support.

A consultation in February received nearly 500 responses, most of whom called for greater action to improve the welfare of cats and dogs at all breeding premises.

Concerns were also raised about online sales, impulse buying, breeder accountability and illegal puppy imports.

A consultation will now be held on plans to implement a ban. Environment minister Lesley Griffiths said she will also revisit the current breeding regulations to improve welfare conditions.  

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WHO declares Congo Ebola outbreak an international health emergency

The World Health Organisation has declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The move comes after a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola in the DRC. The committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma - a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

The committee also reinforced the need to protect the livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open.