Animal Welfare Training in China

ACTS was given the opportunity to provide a basic laboratory animal science course at the Shanghai College of Agriculture and Forestry to 3rd year Animal Science students.  Our training focused primarily on commonly used animals/mammals in research (rodents, rabbits, dogs and nonhuman primates).  The logistics to actually get us to China and provide this training were monumental and could not have been accomplished without the heroic efforts of Jayne Mackta at GR8 and all of the organizations that support her endeavors.


What may have been a fairly routine training program here in theUSturned out to be much more complex when transported toChina.  There were so many questions unanswered that at times we wondered how this would ever work.  How many students will be in the class? Will any of them understand our English? If we get our training materials translated, will the translation be accurate?  What will the lab space look like?  Where will the animals for the labs come from and in what condition will they be?  Will our supplies arrive in time and will they be able to get the anesthetic drugs we need for the lab?  Did I mention if the students will understand our English?


The good thing about having the distraction of developing and coordinating this training program is that we never had a chance to over think the reality of spending almost 3 weeks in a hotel on a college campus 40 minutes south of Shanghai, China with little Western influence.


Now that it’s all behind us, there are a few reflections we feel worth sharing.


There are many in China that are passionately committed to promoting  animal welfare training at all levels of animal care; from the classroom to the laboratory to the board room -  people are talking about animal welfare.


The students were extremely interested in learning the basics of laboratory animal science.  Without exception, each of the students demonstrated a greater understanding of animal welfare by the end of the course.  As is the case with any school, there will be some in the course that may not go on to a career in laboratory animal science. But for those that do, we were able to provide a foundation of understanding as well as basic technical competence that can be taken to the next stage in their career.


The surface of opportunities for collaborating in teaching and training has just barely been scratched.  Our program was able to touch the lives of 23 students, 4 assistant trainers, 2 translators and several faculty and staff at the college.   We are excited at the prospect of going back and providing more focused training for the faculty at the college so that our efforts there will be sustainable over time as the faculty eventually take over the administration of this laboratory animal science program.   We were reminded that this is just one school out of many that can and will benefit from such a program.


Animal welfare is important inChinaand without exception the people we worked with were eager to do their best in demonstrating this fact.  Like the US with its varied views on how animals are valued, China is a big country with lots of people also demonstrating varying ideas on the value of animals in their society.  On our last day inChina, we had a large celebratory meal with senior administration from the college and leaders from local animal research institutions.  We all expressed our joy for the success of the program and the future of laboratory animal care and welfare inChina.  I couldn’t help but notice that the center piece of this lavish table was three fish bowls. (Much of the discussion was in Mandarin, so I had plenty of time to take-in my surroundings). The center most bowl, and largest of the three, had a dead fish floating at the water’s surface.  One of the smaller bowls had a few fish that were clearly on “their last leg/fin”.  Penetrating all ofChinawith this important message of promoting animal welfare is overwhelming.  So we will do our part with the people we can influence, and hope their influence will be much further reaching than ours.  And just maybe on our next visit, we will be able to report that even the fish are alive and well.


Rodent Breeding and Colony Management Seminar & Vendor Fair provided education for over 150 attendees about how to breed rodents and manage colonies effectively. Vendors that provide products and services that support rodent care or research brought an additional level of education through formal presentations and exhibits. Presentations from this event will be available soon.

If you would like to host this event at your institution (at no charge), please contact us at

AuthorCaroline Thompson

This question is directed to you. Yes I know we have people around us that we are sometimes charged with helping to motivate. My premise is that if we ask and answer this question first for ourselves it may be easier to ask the question to others. So What Motivates You? Is it time, money, fame, freedom or promotion? Perhaps there are other things that motivate you. What is motivation? Let’s define it as some stimulus that causes one to do something. We often talk about motivation as something that has a positive connotation. Motivation can be perceived as positive or negative depending on one’s perspective. We have seen cases were animals are motivated by deprivation. Deprive an animal of water or food and they will be motivated to perform when offered food or water. Service people are motivated to work harder and with more vigor when they know they are soon to be furloughed to visit their loved ones. Athletes push themselves beyond their known limits when their goal is just within reach. Conversely a store clerk will readily turn over the keys to the safe when confronted by a potential burglar wielding a weapon. In the absence of deprivation and the threat of bodily harm, what motivates you? Have you ever banged your head against a wall trying to figure out what motivates the people around you? Typically we are concerned about people’s motivation because we want them to perform whether it’s to do their job with more passion or successfully complete an exam. Even when our interest in another’s performance is altruistic, just wanting it for their own good, we often struggle when we see people that appear to be “un”-motivated. This still doesn’t answer the question – what motivates you? Have you ever banged your head against a wall trying to figure out what motivates you? Here’s the thing: only you know what will motivate you. Others may make attempts to determine your motivators but only you know what really works. What do you need, what do you want and what are you willing to do to acquire those things? For example, I want to impress the site visitors so I will work really long hours and run my staff ragged to ensure the best possible chance they will be impressed. The motivator for me is having the site visitors impressed. What I am willing to do is push hard to get things up to the standard I believe will be impressive. Here’s another example: I am in need of more money to support the growing needs of my life. In order to get more money I will get certifications that will increase my chance of promotion and greater income. What motivates you and I will most likely vary based on our current needs. So once we understand what our wants and motivations are it’s easier to appreciate how the motivation of others may vary. Do you want to know what motivates others? Ask them! Ask people what they need, what they want and then what they are willing to do to achieve it. Some may come out and tell you directly but others may not. Allow me to repeat myself - motivators will vary with individuals. Some are motivated by money, others are motivated by opportunity for advancement and others are motivated by educational opportunities. Making assumptions only leaves us frustrated. Motivators will change as our needs and wants change. Taking the time to find out what you and your people want will greatly improve your ability to stay motivated and empower others to do the same.

AuthorCaroline Thompson

Hosted by University Laboratory Animal Resources, University of Pennsylvania


  • Educational Seminars on Transgenic Technology and Rodent Breeding
  • Formal Vendor 15min Presentations
  • Complimentary Lunch
  • Vendor Fair

When: Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 @ 9am-4pm. Registration check-in at 8:30am

Where: University of Pennsylvania - Bio-medical Research Building (BRB) II/III, 421 Curie Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Cost: Free!

Session Topics:

Mouse Tales: Introduction to Mouse Breeding and Colony Management

More Tails from the Crypt: Advance Mouse Colony Management

Cryopreservation, Genotyping, and more!

Interested in participating as a vendor? Register Here

Questions? Contact William Singleton at