Edinburgh University deal with Chinese vets struck

Yang Guang, the male Panda at Edinburgh Zoo. Chinese and Scots vets have agreed a partnership to improve zoos. Picture: Getty
Yang Guang, the male Panda at Edinburgh Zoo. Chinese and Scots vets have agreed a partnership to improve zoos. Picture: Getty
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VETS charged with safeguarding the future of China’s animals will be helped by experts from one of Scotland’s leading universities.

• Edinburgh University strikes deal with Chinese Veterinary Medical Assocation

• Agreement will see both parties undertake veterinary research and educational programmes

• Partnership also expected to provide boost to animal welfare in China

Edinburgh University has signed an agreement with the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), which will see both parties collaborate on innovative research and educational programmes.

The agreement – the first between the CVMA and a UK university – will also promote and strengthen the role of vets in China, particularly in the area of animal welfare.

Scotland has close links with China following the arrival of giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang in late 2011. But Natalie Waran, professor of animal welfare education at Edinburgh University, said the new agreement would help to promote animal welfare within China.

“This historic agreement draws upon the University of Edinburgh’s expertise in animal health and welfare research,” she said.

“Along with the CVMA, we hope to develop dynamic educational expertise to enhance veterinary education – not only training Chinese veterinarians to meet the challenges of a changing and globalised profession, but also promoting animal welfare in the veterinary curriculum to ensure public safety and reduce epidemics.”

The agreement forms part of a collaboration between the CVMA and the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, which is part of the university’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

The collaboration also aims to promote and support innovation in postgraduate veterinary education in China.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh-based charity OneKind, previously known as Advocates for Animals, said: “It’s easy to condemn China over issues such as bear farming, shark finning, crowded indoor factory farms contributing to the spread of disease and the lack of legis­lation to protect animals, but there is a growing desire for change and the Jeanne Marchig Centre is the ideal partner to promote progress through animal welfare education.

“We very much welcome this development.”

Animal welfare groups have long documented widespread abuse in Chinese zoos and wildlife parks, including neglect, beatings and the illegal sale of wine or soup made from the bones of endangered tigers.

In 2010, the authorities urged zoos to stop serving wild animal products and holding wildlife performances in an attempt to improve the treatment of tigers, bears and other animals.

China’s ministry of housing and urban-rural development said inspections would be held to see if zoos were complying.

Meanwhile, hopes remain high that the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo could be ready to breed within the coming days.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has announced that Tian Tian is showing signs of a hormone crossover, meaning she will soon be ready to breed.

Tian Tian is able to conceive for only 36 hours each year, and experts believe this fertile window will fall within the next week or so.