BVA Congress promises alien encounters at 50th Wooldridge Memorial Lecture

08 November 2016

The 50th Wooldridge Memorial Lecture, delivered at the British Veterinary Association (BVA) Congress at London Vet Show (17 - 18 November), will challenge vets with the question, “Would you eat an alien?”. 

The Wooldridge Memorial Lecture, Alien Encounters: Reflections on the Relevance of Animal Welfare Science, will be given this year by Professor Christine Nicol, Professor of Animal Welfare at the School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol. In 2015 Professor Nicol worked with comedian Jake Yapp and BBC Radio 4 on a broadcast series to find out “Would you eat an alien?”. Through interviews with vets, animal welfare scientists, philosophers and wildlife biologists, Professor Nicol explored the human-animal bond by asking how a spaceman crash landing on a remote planet might weigh up the pain, distress and suffering of various edible creatures, taking into account their awareness and relationship to others. 

In this year’s Wooldridge Memorial Lecture, Professor Nicol will draw on her experiences in making the radio programme, and explore how animal welfare science has developed our ability to assess animals’ interests. Professor Nicol will address the debate around the different concerns of sentient animals, socially bonded animals, and those with some awareness of their own future during the lecture that takes place in the BVA Congress Theatre at London’s ExCel between 13.00 – 14.00 on 17 November.

Ahead of delivering the lecture, Professor Nicol said:
"The radio series follows a fictional spaceman who tries his level best to avoid causing harm to the alien life forms he encounters. His journey of ethical and scientific discovery illuminates the perplexing and inconsistent decisions that humans make about animals on planet Earth. I look forward to discussing these ethical dilemmas with veterinary colleagues at the 50th Wooldridge Memorial Lecture, which I am delighted to give."

BVA President, Gudrun Ravetz, commented:
“This is such an interesting and challenging subject and we’re delighted to have such an engaging speaker for the 50th Wooldridge Memorial Lecture. Everyone I speak to is looking forward to hearing Professor Nicol speak and wrestling with the ethical issues she explores in her alien encounters. We look forward to welcoming all London Vet Show attendees to the lecture.”

The first Wooldridge Memorial Lecture, posthumously named after veterinary politician and researcher Dr W R Wooldridge, was delivered at BVA Congress in 1967 by Professor Lord Stamp and, over the years, has been followed by lectures from eminent speakers including the Princess Royal (1992), President of the Animal Health Trust; Sir Robert May FRS, Chief Scientific Adviser, Office of Science and Technology (1999); and Dr John Bradshaw, author of bestsellers “Dog Sense/In Defence of Dogs” and “Cat Sense” (2015).

All London Vet Show attendees can take part in Congress sessions whether or not they are a BVA member and attendance counts towards CPD. Other BVA Congress sessions at London Vet Show this year include a breakfast discussion about the veterinary professions’ priorities in Brexit negotiations, with pastries provided; being a vet but thinking like a client; a session exploring veterinary responsibility in the use of antibiotics; the future of pet insurance; the future of food; and the pressing issue of pedigree dog health. 

All London Vet Show attendees can also visit the BVA Farm Animal Theatre, BVA/BEVA Equine Theatre, and the BVA Career Development Stream sessions, which also count towards CPD. BVA hopes to welcome members and non-members alike to the BVA stand at J85, where there are very tempting offers for non-members to join and great competitions for members. All attendees can get their stamp to win a holiday to Malawi at the BVA stand. 

More information on the full BVA Congress programme is available on the London Vet Show website.

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