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World-leading welfare scientist honoured

One of the world’s leading animal welfare scientists, Massey University’s Professor David Mellor, has been awarded the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare medal – making him one of only nine scientists in the world to receive the award.

Professor Mellor, from the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, received the award this year along with Professor Georgia Mason from the University of Guelph, Canada. The medal recognises the exceptional achievements of an individual scientist who has made fundamental contributions to the advancement of animal welfare science over a number of years.

His contributions to animal welfare cover many aspects of the science, including the welfare and development of young animals, how to assess animal welfare comprehensively and systematically, investigating negative experiences such as breathlessness, thirst, hunger and pain and studying positive emotional states in a range of animals.

Professor Mellor led the development and subsequent refinement of the Five Domains model of animal welfare – a model that covers all aspects of animal welfare including nutrition, environment, health, behaviour and the animal’s mental state, both negative and positive. It has recently been adopted as a key element of the Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare strategies across the world.

He has been an adviser for the New Zealand Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Agriculture, the United Kingdom Home Office, the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the World Organisation for Animal Health, to name a few.

He was the foundation director of the Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre, which he established in 1998. The centre, now co-directed by Massey University Professors Craig Johnson and Kevin Stafford, is a collaborating centre of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). It brings together individuals from across the university, and outside, to work in multidisciplinary teams on particular welfare-related projects.

Professor Mellor says he is “touched and deeply honoured to receive this award from such an august organisation”.

He says his passion for animals began at age 13, when he spent a year on his uncle’s farm in South Australia. After 27 years researching and teaching at Massey University, he says the science and its application are both “wonderful and rewarding”.

Dr Judy MacArthur-Clark, a long-standing friend and colleague who nominated Professor Mellor, says: “He is one of the most influential animal welfare scientists over the last four decades.”

“After almost 50 years of active research and scholarship, David continues to be fully engaged in developing fresh conceptual frameworks for animal welfare science. His approach is typified by his passion for interdisciplinary integration of diverse observations, past and present, with the aim of reshaping contemporary thinking in ways designed to enhance the future practical management of animal welfare.”

Some of the other honours Professor Mellor has received include being ranked in the top 5 per cent of all New Zealand University researchers in 2004, 2007 and 2014, being made an Honorary Associate of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2005, appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2007, and receiving the National Three R’s Award for animal welfare in 2014.

The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare is an independent registered charity that works to develop and promote improvements in the welfare of all animals through scientific and educational activity worldwide.

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