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The Human-Animal Studies Report
February 2021
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to the Animals & Society Institute's Human-Animal Studies Report. Entering into the second year of coping with the coronavirus pandemic means we have a year of research into its effects on animals behind us. This month I consider those effects on zoos and zoo animals.

The pandemic has challenged zoos is several ways, among them steep revenue losses caused by lock-downs and closures. This has left zoos worldwide struggling to care for and feed hungry animals. Amidst calls for governments to step in to help financially vulnerable zoos, calls to fundamentally rethink the way we handle captive animals could transform zoos in fundamental ways. This month’s “Animals and COVID-19” section of the Human-Animal Studies Report, “The ‘Zoo’ in Zoonotic: Will COVID-19 Infections and Financial Considerations Trigger Change for Zoos?,” highlights the vulnerability of zoo animals to COVID-19 infections and considers whether or not pandemic-related issue might prompt significant changes in zoos as we know them. (Note: Other COVID-related surveys, articles and calls appear interspersed below.)

I hope you and those you care about continue to weather the changes brought about by the pandemic as well as you can, and that you all stay healthy and safe.


Editor’s note: The HAS e-newsletter is organized as follows: Jobs, grants, and calls are ordered chronologically by deadline dates, with the earliest first, and will continue to be posted until the deadlines expire. Books and articles include, where possible, links to access them directly from this email. Because publication reference styles vary by source, they might not always be consistent or pretty, but they will get you there. To read more about the topics discussed, click the bold hyperlinks for source material and additional information.

Please send your comments, suggestions, and submissions to:, and if possible include a URL link to your project or announcement.

Animals and COVID-19

The ‘Zoo’ in Zoonotic: Will COVID-19 Infections and
Financial Considerations Prove the Death Knell for Zoos?

Despite precautions that were taken, in early January 2021 the first of three Silverback gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park contracted COVID-19, presumably from an asymptomatic staff member. Concern was high for one particular member of the troop, when a 48-year-old elder named Winston with heart disease developed pneumonia. This is not the first such zoonotic crossover seen is zoos, and cats seem particularly susceptible. Tigers and/or lions have contracted the coronavirus from humans at the Bronx, Knoxville, and Barcelona, Spain, zoos, and a tiger recently was euthanized at a Swedish zoo after her condition deteriorated. 

The widespread unease about zoonotic diseases generally focuses on those that travel from nonhuman animal to human, where the concern is the possibility of another human pandemic brought about by such transmission. This is not a misplaced anxiety. The last thing we need at this point is another zoonotic disease moving from an animal reservoir into the human population already struggling with the year-long SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

The case of Winston and his troop, however, highlights the issue of zoonoses (formerly called zooanthroponoses) moving in the other direction—from human to animal. Outside of zoos, companion cats and a few dogs, farmed mink, and various other primates have proven susceptible catching the COVID-19 virus from humans. Experimental laboratory studies have shown hamsters and ferrets susceptible and, although no cases among domestic livestock have been documented, pigs were recently added to the list of susceptible animals. Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 100 animals in the U.S. have contracted COVID-19, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These include companion, as well as larger, animals.

After a year of research, we are getting a sense of with whom we share this virus, and the list of species continues to grow. An October 2020 study in Nature assessed which other species might be susceptible to infection by modeling the major proteins that SARS-Cov-2 uses for cell entry. The study looked specifically at animals with whom humans come into close contact in domestic, agricultural, or zoological settings. The researchers identified 26 mammals at high risk, such as horses, goats, pigs, cows, sheep, rabbits, Guinea pigs, and Chinese and Golden hamsters. Specific to zoos, high-risk animals included Arabian camels, pandas, polar bears, wild yaks and other primates. To be clear, not all of the animal species shown through this modelling to be susceptible have yet contracted the disease—but the list of individuals who have done so continues to grow. With this in mind and given the large number of animals kept in close proximity within many zoos, the possibility of more, and perhaps different, animals contracting COVID-19 within zoos does not seem out of the question. Furthermore, the case of Winston and his troop shows that even less-restrictive scenarios like zoological parks are not free from this concern.
This is neither the first nor the only challenge zoos have faced during the pandemic. Pandemic-related closures and resulting steep revenue losses have left zoos worldwide struggling to care for and feed hungry animals. As early as last spring, a German zoo approached its government with requests for emergency aid lest they be forced to kill some animals to feed others. Although some countries provided their zoos with COVID relief, as of this month the situation remains dire in the UK (also, here and here), and we can imagine elsewhere. 

Amidst calls for governments to step in to help financially vulnerable zoos, a new publication by Angie Pepper and Kristin Voigt, “Covid-19 and the Future of Zoos” lays out the problems with this approach, and provides a possible “positive proposal.” They argue that “While we and our governments have a responsibility to ensure the protection of animals in struggling zoos, it is morally impermissible to make private donations or state subsidies to zoos because such actions serve to perpetuate an unjust institution. In order to protect zoo animals without perpetrating further injustice, governments should subsidize the transformation of zoos into sanctuaries and then facilitate the gradual closure of most of these sanctuaries.”

Pepper and Voight admit that their “proposal is unlikely to garner mass appeal, and that support for zoos remains depressingly widespread.” As pointed out by Ken Shapiro in his 2018 piece, “Whither Zoos? An Inescapable Question” (and see below), “the long history, current popularity, and economics of zoo and aquarium enterprises” makes the possibility of zoos as we know them ceasing to exist unlikely. However, in that work Shapiro mused that a “triggering event” might break the logjam caused by balance between the desire for change and the fear of change regarding zoos. Is it possible the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on zoos might be that event?

While the future of zoos remains uncertain, we can be heartened that the COVID-infected Silverback troop at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are eating, drinking, and interacting. Winston the elder Silverback is doing well following treatment with heart medications, antibiotics, and monoclonal antibody therapy

More Resources:
The concept of zoos is not without detractors, with many animal scholars and advocates arguing that wild animals should not be held captive. Others call for enhanced welfare within zoos while allowing for the benefits of conservation, endangered species recovery, and the ability to hone management practices through observation and study. 

For more perspectives on the issue of animal welfare in zoos, see the following OPEN ACCESS articles from the ASI-managed Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science:

Grandin, T. (2018). My Reflections on Understanding Animal Emotions for Improving the Life of Animals in Zoos. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 21(sup1), 12-22.

Pierce, J., & Bekoff, M. (2018). A postzoo future: Why welfare fails animals in zoos. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 21(sup1), 43-48.

Safina, C. (2018). Where Are Zoos Going—or Are They Gone?. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 21(sup1), 4-11.

Shapiro, K. (2018). Whither Zoos? An Inescapable Question. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 21(sup1), 1-3.

NOTE: The “Animals and COVID-19” section of this Report is copyright © 2021, the Animals & Society Institute. All rights reserved. This material may be reproduced for personal use or by not-for-profit organizations with proper credits and the web site link For other uses, no portion of this publication may be reproduced or distributed, in print or through any electronic means, without the written permission of the Animals & Society Institute. 


Help ASI Help the Animals by Taking Our Survey
Are you concerned about improving animal lives? We are, too! The Animals & Society Institute (ASI) are asking for your help with our mission of advancing human knowledge to improve animal lives by completing a ten-question survey. Your responses about ASI’s programs, resources, research topics, and membership benefits, will help us create and promote efforts in the coming year that YOU think are important. Find the survey here. Thanks in advance for your participation.

ASI Seeks Board Members with Non-Profit Finance Expertise
Do you want to help create a more compassionate world? Would you like to see evidence-based research used to strengthen human-animal relationships? If you do, you may be a match for ASI’s open board member positions. If you have experience in nonprofit finances, we would love to talk to you. Whether you have experience working with a hands-on board or are thinking about joining a board for the first time, this may be the right opportunity for you. Learn more here.


This month’s LINK-Letter from the National Resource Center on The Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence covers the following: While a California Commission has called for more pet-friendly domestic violence shelters, awards and grants are being offered for the most outstanding domestic violence pet shelters. Wyoming and Hawai’i may be the next two states to finally outlaw sex with animals. The Canadian Link Coalition is promoting veterinarians’ roles in responding to domestic violence.

Developing policies and practices related to dealing with animal abuse is important both for animal welfare considerations and because of the empirically established co-occurrence—the “link”—between animal abuse and human violence. The University of Connecticut School of Social Work, in collaboration with the UConn Law School and the Animals & Society Institute(ASI) are presenting two webinars on the Assessment and Treatment of Animal Abuse. Presented by ASI’s Board President, Kenneth Shapiro, the evening webinars, March 4 and 11, 2021, are designed for human service professionals, forensic psychologists and criminal justice personnel. The two sessions will explore the identification, assessment and treatment of animal cruelty offenders, and will provide 1.5 CECs for participants. Find our more here.

A PhD student in Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Samentha Sepúlveda, is looking for people to interview about their experiences as an employee or volunteer of an animal shelter. Interviews will occur via telephone, Zoom, or Teams and should take between 30-60 minutes. Eligible participants will be 18 years old or older and should either currently be working or volunteering at an animal shelter or have worked or volunteered at an animal shelter within the last year. Please email to participate or for more information.

HAS Funding and Opportunities

The Seattle Foundation has announced a new scholarship for undergraduate and graduate students interested in studying animal liberation. The scholarship is to students who are passionate about the intersection of social justice and animal liberation within the discipline of History. The $10,000 annual Theresa Earenfight Liberation History Scholarship is renewable through the completion of the student’s degree if eligibility criteria are met, and may be applied to tuition and fees, or other academic expenses payable to the college or university. The application deadline is March 1, 2021.

The University of Vienna is looking to add ten funded PhD positions studying cognition and communication to its next cohort. The goal is to train graduate students to conduct interdisciplinary research into cognition and communication from a biological viewpoint, with a focus on how animals including humans solve real-world problems, such as communicating and interacting with conspecifics in daily social life. The application deadline is March 1, 2021.

The Morris Animal Foundation is now accepting proposals for grants focused on canine health researchGrant applications are due by March 10, 2021.

The U.K. Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) is releasing the second batch of funding to support research that furthers our understanding of the human-animal bond. There are eight funding grants available ranging from £1,500-£10,000. The application deadline is April 30, 2021.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is offering a Scholarship and Clerkship to Howard University School of Law. The $25,000 scholarship is available to a second-year law student at the University, and includes a clerkship with the nonprofit. For more information, contact

Podcasts, Webinars, Lectures, and Courses

This section includes both upcoming live events, and past events that were recorded.

The British Animal Studies Network is convening a series of events surrounding the theme of violence across March, April and May. Session topics include Farming and Slaughter, violent Analogies, Power and Representation and Science/Fiction/Technology. Details here.

VINE Sanctuary is hosting an online Zoom event, “The Sexual Politics of Meat” on February 28, 2-3:30 CST. Carol Adams will join to answer questions and share insights about her book, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, which explores relationships between patriarchal values and meat eating by interweaving the insights of feminism, vegetarianism, animal defense, and literary theory. To join, use the following Zoom credentials:, Meeting ID: 923 0485 4882, Passcode: 622071.

The Animals & Society Research Initiative’s next presentation in its Distinguished Lecture Series, “Animating Caste: Visceral Geographies of Pigs, Caste, and Violent Nationalisms in Chennai City” with Yamini Narayanan, will take place March 16, 12:30-1:50 PST. Previous recorded lecturesare also available.

For advocates or those looking for teaching resources, check out Andrew Knight’s series of short video summaries of articles on animal welfare issues, and the University of Winchester’s Centre for Animal Welfare YouTube channel.

New HAS Books and Monographs

Following are some recent books published of interest to the field of Human-Animal Studies.

Éric Baratay, 2021. Cultures félines (XVIIIe -XXIe siècle). Les chats créent leur histoire, Paris, Seuil.

Ana Lucia Camphora, 2020 (March). Animals and Society in Brazil, from the Sixteenth to Nineteenth Centuries. White Horse Press.

Bob Fischer. 2021 (May). Animal Ethics: A Contemporary Introduction. Routledge.

Sam George & Bill Hughes (eds), 2021 (January). In the company of wolves: Werewolves, wolves and wild children. Manchester University Press.

Joela Jacobs (ed), 2020Animal Narratology(a 454-page print edition of a special issue by the same name that was published in the journal Humanities and is available also as an open-access PDF.)

Lori Kogan and Phyllis Erdman (eds). 2021. Career Paths in Human-Animal Interaction for Social and Behavioral Scientists. Routledge.

Peter J. Li, 2021(March). Animal Welfare in China. Sydney University Press.

Marian Stamp Dawkins, 2021 (March). The Science of Animal Welfare: Understanding What Animals Want. Oxford University Press.

Martin Wallen, 2021. Squid. Reakton Books.

New HAS Articles and Book Chapters

Following are some recent research articles and book chapters published in the field of Human-Animal Studies.

Carvalho, C., Varela, S.A.M., Marques, T.A., Knight, A. and Vicente, L. 2020. Are in vitro and in silico approaches used appropriately for animal-based Major Depressive Disorder research? PLoS ONE. 15(6), e0233954.

Jody Epstein, Seana Dowling-Guyer, Emily McCobb, Courtney Glotzer, Nicholas H. Dodman, 2021. Addressing stress in dogs in shelters through a novel visual and auditory enrichment device. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. (236).

Fijn, N. (2020). Human‐horse sensory engagement through horse archery. The Australian Journal of Anthropology

Christy Hoffman, 2021. The Experience of Teleworking with Dogs and Cats in the United States during Covid-19. Animals 2021, 11(2), 268.

Mikhalevich, I. & Powell, R. (2020).  Minds without spines: evolutionarily inclusive animal ethics.” Animal Sentience, 2020.329.
Louise Scanlon, Pru Hobson-West, Kate Cobb, Anne McBride & Jenny Stavisky (2021). Homeless People and Their Dogs: Exploring the Nature and Impact of the Human–Companion Animal Bond. Anthrozoös

Tennessen T., Caldwell C.D. (2020) Animal Welfare: A Good Life for Animals. In: Caldwell C., Wang S. (eds), Introduction to Agroecology. Springer, Singapore.

Zemanova, M.A. and Knight, A. (2021). The educational efficacy of humane teaching methods: a systematic review of the evidence. Animals; 11(1):114.

Calls for Papers: Journals and Chapters

A call is out for papers for the forthcoming Health and Human Rights Journal—a novel issue focused on how the treatment of nonhuman animals is relevant to health and human rights. Submission requirements can be found herePapers are due March 31, 2021.

The open-access journal, Animals, will publish a special issue on "Social Isolation and the Roles That Animals Play in Supporting the Lives of Humans: Lessons for COVID19." Deadline for manuscript submissions is April, 30 2021

People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice has issued a call for articles on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Human-Animal Interactions in Families, Communities and Organizations.” The call is open until June 30, 2021, but articles can be submitted at any time and will be published incrementally. Submit here.

A call is out for articles in a special issue of Social Sciences, dealing with "Human-Animal Interactions and Issues in Criminal Justice: Toward a Humane Criminology." Guest editors Kimberly Spanjol, Cathryn Lavery, and Heath Grant, seek broad contributions of original research of application and theory of human–animal interactions in Criminal Justice. This includes issues that impact companion, wild, and farmed animals. The deadline for manuscript submissions in August 31, 2021.

You are invited to contribute a scholarly essay on the topic “Communication in Defense of Nonhuman Animals During an Extinction and Climate Crisis,” to the 2022 special issue we are editing for the open-access international journal Journalism and Media (ISSN 2673-5172). The Article Processing Charge (APC) for open access publication in this Special Issue will be waived, which means that you have the privilege to publish your paper free of charge in an open access scholarly journal. Find details hereThe submission deadline is October 31, 2021

Calls for Papers: Conferences
and Workshops

The virtual Animal Advocacy Conference, Insights from the Social Sciences, will take place June 30 – July 2, 2021. This conference uniquely bridges the gap between academic researchers and activists/professionals in the field of vegan and animal rights advocacy. To contact the conference organizers, please email submission portal will close on February 28, 2021.

The Centre for Human-Animal Studies will host the 7th Biennial Conference of the European Association for Critical Animal Studies (EACAS). The conference, EACAS 2021: Appraising Critical Animal Studies, will be virtual and will take place June 24-25, 2021. Papers are welcomed from all disciplines and sub-fields, and from those working independently or as part of advocacy/activist movements. Abstracts are due February 28, 2021.

The Community for Human-Animal Studies Israel (HASI) | The Israeli Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Coller-Menmon Animal Rights and Welfare Program at the Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel-Aviv University have issued a call for papers for the conference, Human-Animal Relations: Opportunities and Challenges in Changing Realities. The conference will take place June 1-3, 2021, and is intended to bring together schoalrs who are passionate about exploring human-animal relations, and strive for generating developments and innovations in the field. Abstracts are due March 1, 2021.

A call is out for presentations for an online conference, “Multispecies Knowledges and the Industrialization of Animal Exploitation,” June 2-3, 2021. The program encourages a broad understanding of the theme and welcome proposals for presentations from different disciplines and fields of study, such as history, ethnology, cultural studies, sociology, and human-animal studies. Keynote speakers are Nik Tylor and Sandra Swart. Proposals (max 300 words) are due by March 8, 2021 to, where one can also request more information.

A hybrid conference “Visible Evidence XXVII” will take place in Frankfurt am Main, Germany on December 15-18, 2021. The conference includes a panel “Documentary and the Non-Human.” Proposals are due by March 20, 2021.

A call is out for the Annual Political Science Workshops of the Low Countries, Politicologen Etmaal, June 3-4, 2021 for a workshop on Challenging Anthropocentrism in Political Science: Gender, Race, Intersectionality, and the More-Than-Human. The session leaders welcome empirical studies and theoretical or philosophical essays. Ideally, the workshop hosts a mix of these approaches. The deadline is March 31, 2021.

As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of activity and progress going on today in the field of Human-Animal Studies, and we always invite your input and participation.

Your donation to the Animals & Society Institute will enable us to continue to expand the field in many more ways and work in conjunction with others around the world who share these goals.

Thank you for supporting our Human-Animal Studies efforts!

Gala Argent, PhD
Human-Animal Studies Program Director