Fowler's Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine Current Therapy, Volume 10 - Chapter 37: Zoo Animal Welfare in the 21st Century - Contemporary Thinking, Assessment, and Best Practice

Elsevier, Fowler's Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine Current Therapy, Volume 10, 2022, pp 245-250
Reiss A.E., De Graaff N.

Good animal welfare should be of the highest priority and should underpin all decisions and actions of a modern zoo. Poor animal welfare, or perception of such, is a significant risk for the operations and strategic objectives of zoos. Zoos must be able to not only demonstrate positive welfare states, but also communicate their welfare achievements eloquently to the wider public. Zoos with less-than-optimal welfare cannot expect to achieve good outcomes in conservation, visitor entertainment, engagement, communication, human behavior change, or stakeholder partnerships. Animal welfare assessments should be robust, objective, and science-based. The Five Domains model is well-suited to welfare assessment of zoo animals and focuses on four physical domains and a fifth mental domain, which reflects how the animal experiences its own life. All zoos should have processes in place to support good welfare outcomes, including regular and continuous use of a welfare monitoring program, to monitor and assess an individual’s welfare. Zoos also need the necessary infrastructure, capacity, documents, training, and accountability to support their welfare objectives. Regular self-evaluation of the zoo’s welfare program is an important component of a strong approach to animal welfare. Increasingly, animal welfare forms an important part of zoo accreditation programs. Global, regional, and national zoo associations actively support and appraise the welfare operations of zoos. The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has determined that by 2023 all WAZA national and regional associations must have an animal welfare evaluation process in place, and all institutional members must be compliant with this process.