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Comic book teaches livestock genetics to children

A comic book inspires young people about the role of genetics research in improving milk production in sub-Saharan Africa.

Zuri Book

Children can learn about livestock genetics from a comic book featuring science, storytelling, engaging graphics and humour.

‘More Milk Zuri’ tells the tale of a cow on a quest to learn how genetics can help her have daughters that produce enough milk to feed all the children in her African village.

The idea for the 20-page book was created by Dr Liam Morrison at the Roslin Institute, who developed it with scientific illustrator Eliza Wolfson and with researchers affiliated with the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH) at Roslin and at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya.

The story introduces the concepts of genetic selection and how environment and management play an important role in livestock productivity.

Aimed at primary school children, the book features Zuri the cow, who makes the creamiest milk in all the land.

Improving genetics and livelihoods

 Millions of families living in rural Africa rely on livestock for both their income and food. We wanted to develop a story that highlighted the possibilities of genetics and how CTLGH’s work improving livestock genetics in tropical countries can increase productivity and reduce both poverty and hunger in these fragile communities.

Dr Liam MorrisonSenior Research Fellow, Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh

This book introduces the concepts of genetic gains and highlights the value of crossbreeding and breed preservation for each generation. It also showcases the work that CTLGH and its many partners are doing to improve the productivity and health of dairy cattle in sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Steve KempProgramme Leader in Livestock Genetics, Deputy Director of CTLGH

Inspiring young people

I have worked in Tanzania in the past and wanted to make a comic that was sympathetic to the traditional African storytelling style. We gave the three main characters African names like ‘Zuri’, which is Swahili for ‘beautiful’, ‘Busara’, which means ‘wise’ and ‘Elewa’, which means ‘understand’.

Eliza WolfsonScientific Illustrator

‘More Milk Zuri’ is an accessible, engaging and fun story, which we’re looking forward to sharing with school groups visiting the Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre. It’s a great opportunity to show our local young people that researchers based here in Scotland are doing work to improve the lives of people and animals not just in the UK but across the world.

Dr Nicola StockPublic Engagement with Research Manager, Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh
Book cover
Zuri is a cow learning how genetics can help her have daughters that produce enough milk to feed children in her village.

The comic has been translated into Swahili – the official language of East Africa – and CTLGH is working to establish networks to disseminate it through schools and other networks in Kenya and Tanzania.

Additional school resources to accompany the book will be developed by CTLGH, through a grant awarded by the Roslin Institute. ‘More Milk Zuri’ has been funded through the UK Government’s BBSRC Global Challenges Research Fund.

** The Roslin Institute receives strategic investment funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and it is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. **

Related links

Download the book

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Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH)