Mouse Ethogram

Georgia Mason

As a child, I loved animals and was addicted to the books of Gerald Durrell, James Herriot and David Attenborough. In my teens, this merged with a passion for biological science -- fuelling the uncertain feeling that I should probably be a veterinarian. However, once a pre-clinical veterinary student at Cambridge (vet. med. is an undergraduate degree in the UK), six terms of anatomy and pharmacology, and two summers spent squeezing dogs’ anal glands and castrating piglets, were enough for me! I switched to Zoology – and have never looked back. Learning about animal behaviour and evolution, and about how research is conducted, was a revelation and a joy. I was particularly fascinated (and disturbed) by one contrast between what I was being taught and what I saw happening in zoos. Wild animals should use their time and energy efficiently, according to Optimal Foraging Theory – and yet in captivity they often spend hours pacing, rocking, or plucking their fur out. So began my lifelong interest in stereotypic behaviour (first pursued in a Ph.D. supervised by Professor Pat Bateson at the Sub-department of Animal Behavour, Madingley), and my broader interests in animals’ motivations to perform natural behaviours, the impact that captive environments can have on brain function, and the objective assessment of animal welfare. After 10 years of the calm and sanity of Cambridge (especially Clare and Darwin Colleges), I spent 10 years in the crazy hothouse of the Zoology Dept., Oxford. I moved to Guelph in 2004, where I live in an eccentric 1960’s house(fondly nick-named ‘The Money Pit’) with ecologist Jonathan Newman; teenage step-son and skate-boarder supreme, Griffin; and two middle-aged and rather spoiled cats, Mouse and Sophie.


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