Learning About Animals was set up to provide information and promote interest in
the welfare and behaviour of animals. The aim is to bridge the gap between professionals
& scientists working with animals and the public.
If you have any suggestions for future events, if you would like to be considered
to be a speaker, or if you would like to get involved in helping at the events, or
projects please get in touch.
1. Learning about social behaviour in whales through their communication LINK
Just in case you missed it - a selection of some of the LAA Facebook posts since
the August Newsletter
Saturday 19th September Equine Behaviour Forum’s Symposium Three speakers on the theme
of “What Horses Want”. Newcastle, UK. LINK
Monday 21st September The K9 Project Conference Impressive programme on the theme of
dogs and emotional well-being. Ely, Cambridgeshire. See LINK for more details.
Do animals dream?
We have all seen sleeping dogs twitch their paws, move their legs and sometimes vocalise
in their sleep as if they are dreaming chasing rabbits. Is it scientifically likely
that animals dream in the same way that humans do? Well, for humans we know that
during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep there is electrical activity in the brain that
is similar to that when we are awake. People woken up in this stage of sleep can
usually report their dreams, which they do not if woken from other types of sleep.
Animals also have REM sleep and it has been found that during this they also have
electrical brain activity similar to that when they are awake. Therefore, most scientists
agree that it is likely that animals do indeed dream, although we do not know what
they dream about!
SUNDAY 27TH SEPTEMBER (HALF DAY) First aid for horsesDETAILS
SATURDAY 3RD OCTOBER (HALF DAY) Equine neuroanatomy in a nutshell DETAILS
SATURDAY 24th OCTOBER (FULL DAY) Exploring animal ethics with Dr Mark KennedyDETAILS
14TH NOVEMBER (HALF DAY) Chicken behaviour and cognitionDETAILS
SATURDAY /SUNDAY 28/29 NOVEMBER (WEEKEND) Thinking Horsemanship Weekend - SomersetDETAILS
Gift vouchers available for talks and events
Just email for more information -firstname.lastname@example.org
The Good News Box
1. Ok so I am biased but the formal launch of the Aquarium Welfare Association is
coming up and I am a member of the team involved. Fish behaviour is not only absolutely
fascinating but also misunderstood. This Association will work to provide high quality
resources to disseminate information about fish welfare that can be applied by pet
fish owners and aquarium owners alike.
6. Encouraging news that the tide is turning in the world of marine parks as Marineland,
which currently holds captive dolphins and an orca, admits that changing isn’t beyond
the realms of possibility. Whether the motivation is an appreciation that public
opinion is moving away from supporting captivity of whales and dolphins, or fear
that they won’t be able to meet the requirements of proposed animal welfare legislation,
or fear of a decreasing profit - it is good to hear this sort of news rather than
a defence of captivity as is commonly heard from SeaWorld LINK
1. Abnormal behaviour resource: This website is a collection of photos and videos
showing abnormal repetitive behaviour in animals. It is a great resource from the
University of Guelph in Canada and you have permission to use them for lectures as
long as you cite the source. It is also interesting for people who just want to learn
more about how to recognise abnormal behaviours.
Please consider buying a bag! I have some of these bags left - only £7 including
P&P, four colours. LINK
Why does your choice of training method matter?
For many people talking about the methods used to train dogs and horses has the same
feeling of ‘should we go there?’ as bringing up the subjects of religion or politics.
Most people reading this Newsletter will know that talking about dominance-based
training methods for dogs is out-dated and inappropriate (if not then see the Welfare
in Dog Training link to learn more) but what about horses?
There are so many training methods out there for horses and at first glance many
seem to be based on natural horse behaviour and claim to be kind and compassionate.
But are they really? When we swing ropes and play ‘games’ with our horses what is
really happening at the level of learning theory and in the brain?
I am incredibly excited that Sharon Smith, who has studied this as part of her MSc
dissertation, will be covering this in her talk on 3rd October. The event will cover
the parts of the brain involved in emotion and learning, show how habit formation
and emotions are generated at the neuroanatomical level, and bring everything together
in a session exploring how our training methods effect the processes going on in
the brain of the animals we work with and should this prompt us to question how we
train the animals we share our lives with?
1. Some brilliant ideas for enrichment for horses, ponies and donkeys on this Facebook
page Some brilliant photos and ideas on this page LINK
2. Improving the lives of captive porcupines in Vietnam LINK
3. If you are in the UK check out the October 2015 issue of Horse and Rider magazine.
I answered one of the questions in the Q&A section as part of my involvement with
the Equine Behaviour and Training Association. The issue also includes a great article
about equine body language by Anna Saillet, a fellow behaviourist who sometimes delivers
talks in partnership with Learning About Animals in Cheshire.
4. Great article exploring not so natural horsemanship LINK