Skip to main content

University of Exeter research on badgers and meerkats to be showcased at Great British Bioscience Festival.

Exeter researchers go to town with badgers and meerkats

A team of researchers from the University of Exeter will be heading to London to showcase their research on badgers and meerkats as part in the Great British Bioscience Festival. The festival will take place between 14 – 16 November 2014 and is the culmination of a year-long tour offering visitors the chance to explore the fascinating world of biology through interactive science exhibits from real scientists.  

Working with the At-Bristol science centre, Professor Robbie McDonald and team have built a virtual interactive farm landscape where badgers, cattle and TB interact. Visitors to the ‘Tackling bovine TB in the field’ exhibit will take the role of a vet, a farmer or a wildlife manager, and will confront TB in the virtual world by testing and removing cattle and by catching, vaccinating or culling badgers. Animals and infection respond interactively to the control measures. 

Professor Robbie McDonald from the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall said: “Bovine TB control is complex and controversial. Our interactive exhibit tries to capture disease dynamics and communicate the challenges ahead.”

Also exhibiting at the festival will be Dr Alex Thornton from Biosciences at the University of Exeter who will showcase evidence for teaching and the spread of traditions in groups of wild meerkats as part of the ‘Animal cultures: Nature's second inheritance system’ exhibit.

The exhibit demonstrates that instead of human culture being distinct from other species, cultural processes of varying complexity are present in other animals, including meerkats.

Dr Alex Thornton said: “Research on meerkats and other animals shows that they, like us, are cultural creatures: they learn from one another and have traditions that spread from generation to generation. Our exhibit will showcase the diversity of animal culture and what it can teach us about ourselves.”

Professor Jackie Hunter, BBSRC Chief Executive said: “The Great British Bioscience Festival will be a unique chance for BBSRC and our scientists to bring awe-inspiring bioscience research to east London. A variety of entertaining and engaging exhibitions will be on offer, highlighting the best of BBSRC-sponsored world-leading bioscience.”

The festival is free and is suitable for all the family, with over 20 exciting and interactive displays on offer. It is taking place in Museum Gardens, Bethnal Green, London.

For more information on all the exhibits heading to the Great British Bioscience Festival visit:

The Great British Bioscience festival is brought to you by BBSRC in partnership with LND Science Festival.

Keep up to date with the latest festival news on Twitter using the hashtags #GBbioscifest and #LSF14. 

Date: 13 November 2014