Trevor Poole

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The Independent Online

Trevor Brian Poole, zoologist and animal-welfare researcher: born Bradford, Yorkshire 26 April 1931; Lecturer in Zoology, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth 1959-74, Senior Lecturer 1974-83; twice married (one son, one daughter); died Chigwell, Essex 30 September 2001.

In 1983 Trevor Poole joined the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (Ufaw) as a scientific editor with the specific task of editing the sixth edition of The Ufaw Handbook on the Care and Management of Laboratory Animals, published in 1987. He was substantially responsible for changes to the ethos of this influential publication, but his work at Ufaw soon extended far beyond his editorship.

In many ways Ufaw provided an excellent environment for his long-standing and wide-ranging interests in animal behaviour. He became Director of Research in 1985, and subsequently Deputy Director of the federation. His previous research into the behaviour and physiology of a wide range of mammals, together with experience in aspects of animal management in laboratories and zoos, provided a sound background for him to help to extend the work and increase the influence of Ufaw.

A number of international projects was developed for the first time, and Poole was invited to lecture and give specialist advice in many countries. He was appointed Director, and subsequently Vice-President, of the International Academy for Animal Welfare Sciences (Ufaw International), responsible for the role of Ufaw outside the UK.

Poole commissioned and supervised research projects during his time at Ufaw – studies of the breeding behaviour and endocrinology of Asiatic elephants in Sri Lanka (one of the many projects that involved inter-institutional collaboration and funding), the housing of bears in zoos, the welfare of kennelled dogs, the housing of macaque monkeys in laboratories for research. One major research programme, jointly funded with the Zoological Society of London, aimed to validate a wide variety of ingenious and inexpensive techniques of environmental enrichment for carnivores and primates.

Poole always appreciated the fact that he was working to improve the lives of animals, as well as to improve education about animal welfare and its implications ethically and scientifically. He was realistic about the need of humankind to use animals in various domains, but strove to ensure that animal welfare in these areas should be improved as much as possible.

On his official retirement in 1996 he became a freelance animal welfare scientist, but he still edited the seventh edition of the Ufaw handbook published in 1999. He was an influential member of many national and international committees concerned with animal welfare, and had chaired a number of them, including the Captive Care Working Party of the Primate Society of Great Britain, and the Captive Care and Breeding Committee of the International Primatological Society.

In June this year he had presented a proposal to a Council of Europe Working Party in Strasbourg. The committee of experts that he chaired from 2000 had formulated agreed recommendations, based upon scientific knowledge and best practice, to revise the present inadequate standards of housing for primate species in laboratories. The scientists and representatives of the member states accepted the proposal, and the recommendations are soon likely to become part of the legislation of member states of the European Community.

Trevor Poole was born in Bradford in 1931 and trained as a zoologist in the 1950s. He obtained a first class honours degree that included Applied Zoology, and a PhD in Ecology from the University College of Wales in Bangor. After a short spell teaching zoology at the Chelsea College of Science and Technology in London, he returned to North Wales in 1959, to the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, as a Lecturer in the department of Zoology, where he stayed until 1983. He taught a range of subjects, including a course in animal behaviour that he initiated, and also taught courses in the University of Mahidol in Thailand, and the National University of Singapore.

His research on the behaviour of a wide variety of mammalian species in captivity began early in his career. Many of the results he obtained had implications for the welfare of the different species – for instance, conditions of social grouping can ameliorate aggressive behaviour, and social play can be an indicator of well-being. In the 1970s, he established a colony of South American marmosets and tamarins (Callichidae), animals which were then becoming much used in biological research. He and his research group at Aberystwyth pioneered a variety of improvements for the husbandry of these animals that were subsequently of importance for practice in zoos and laboratories.

Poole's work had begun when there was little relevant scientific information about animal welfare. Much has changed in recent years, and he played a very creditable part in that, but animal-welfare issues still frequently involve negotiating a minefield of resistance and ignorance. Importantly, it is also a field that engenders a great deal of emotion and political posturing.

To improve the quality of life for captive animals of widely different species on sound scientific information, based on their natural behaviour and biology, requires more than information per se. It requires strong and respected leadership with a considerable amount of social skill. Trevor Poole demonstrated these qualities in ample measure. He was also a sincere and delightful friend, with a wonderful sense of humour and a youthful enthusiasm for many aspects of life.

Hilary O. Box