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Grieving for Bella and other animals: An interactive death café exploring the ways in which grief can be a catalyst for care and conservation

Environment Themed

What’s on offer?

The workshop facilitators from the University of Exeter's Anthrozoology as Symbiotic Ethics (EASE) working group will introduce and outline the key findings from two of their current research projects: one funded by the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) focused on supporting childhood experiences of grief following the loss of companion or support animals, and a National Geographic funded project that has been concerned with creating and screening a documentary film on the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa with the explicit aim of catalysing grief in viewers of the film. The film depicts aspects of the lives and deaths of individuals impacted by rhino poaching. By focusing on these seemingly different contexts, we will explore the various relationships between humans and other animals, between other animals themselves, and the grief and emotion experienced by survivors.
The session will include a screening of the films produced by the EASE team, followed by discussion including presentations and participation from non-academic project partners, Diane James from the Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service (PBSS) and Trang Nguyen from WildAct Vietnam. The workshop will also be live streamed to enable virtual participation.

What’s it about?

Mass species extinction is a defining feature of the global environmental crisis. While wild animals face numerous threats to their existence, human relationships with companion animals are increasing. Relationships between individual humans and individual animals, as well as between other multi-species combinations, will be deeply affective, which can lead to trauma when those bonds are severed by death. In this workshop, which will take the form of a series of presentations and film screenings followed by an interactive death café, researchers and workshop participants will discuss experiences of nonhuman animal loss and explore the connections between grief, caring for nonhuman life, and conservation.

Who’s leading the event?

The event will be facilitated by members of the Exeter Anthrozoology as Symbiotic Ethics (EASE) working group, including Professor Samantha Hurn, Associate Professor and Programme Director MA and PhD Anthrozoology, University of Exeter; Dr Alexander Badman-King, Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Exeter; Dr Fenella Eason, Lecturer in Anthrozoology, University of Exeter; Dr Emily Stone, Research Associate Anthrozoology, University of Exeter.   More information on EASE can be found here:

Open to

The event is open to all. There are 15 places available to join the death café in person with refreshments and cake. The event will also be available via livestream to enable virtual participation. 

Of particular interest to

The event will be of interest to people involved in companion animal care, compassion and bereavement issues; families (including young people) who have/have not experienced companion animal death; academics researching nonhuman animal grief among wild and domesticated animals or human grief for those killed by poaching, experimentation, factory farming or euthanasia. It will also be of interest to members of the veterinary profession and human mental health teams, professional and non-professional child carers and guardians, those involved in animal competition and entertainment.