Human-animal interactions and machine-animal interactions in animals under human care: A summary of stakeholder and researcher perceptions and future directions

Williams, Ellen; Sadler, Jennifer; Rutter, Steven Mark; Mancini, Clara; Nawroth, Christian; Neary, Joseph; Ward, Samantha; Charlton, Gemma and Beaver, Annabelle (2024). Human-animal interactions and machine-animal interactions in animals under human care: A summary of stakeholder and researcher perceptions and future directions. Animal Welfare (in press).

Abstract

Animals under human care are exposed to a potentially large range of both familiar and unfamiliar humans. Human-animal interactions vary across settings, and individuals, with the nature of the interaction being affected by a suite of different intrinsic and extrinsic factors. These interactions can be described as positive, negative or neutral. Across some industries, there has been a move towards the development of technologies to support or replace human interaction with animals. Whilst this has many benefits, there can also be challenges associated with increased technology use. A day-long Animal Welfare Research Network workshop was hosted at Harper Adams University, UK, with the aim of bringing together stakeholders and researchers (n = 38) from the companion, farm and zoo animal fields, to discuss benefits, challenges and limitations of human-animal interactions and machine-animal interactions for animals under human care and create a list of future research priorities. The workshop consisted of four talks from experts within these areas, followed by break-out room discussions. This work is the outcome of that workshop. The key recommendations are that approaches to advancing the scientific discipline of machine-animal interactions in animals under human care should focus on: (1) interdisciplinary collaboration; (2) development of validated methods; (3) incorporation of an animal-centred perspective; (4) a focus on promotion of positive animal welfare states (not just avoidance of negative states); and (5) an exploration of ways that machines can support a reduction in the exposure of animals to negative human-animal interactions to reduce negative, and increase positive, experiences for animals.

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