Animal Welfare

Professional zoos and aquariums are committed to promoting optimal animal welfare and providing environments where animals can thrive. Significant advances in knowledge about animals and animal welfare science have resulted in big changes in modern zoos and aquariums. Today’s zoos and aquariums must be centres for excellent animal welfare, ensuring the latest scientific knowledge and best-practice experiences are consistently reflected and applied in animal welfare programmes.

All zoos and aquariums can take a significant stance on improving the lives of animals in their care, despite continued challenges of differing attitudes, societal expectations and varied jurisdictional frameworks and legislation in the global implementation of animal welfare standards.

The WAZA Animal Welfare Strategy, Caring for Wildlife (2015) calls on WAZA members, as well as all zoos and aquariums globally, to:

  • strive to achieve high welfare standards for the animals in their care;
  • be animal welfare leaders, advocates and authoritative advisers; and
  • provide environments that focus on the animals’ physical and behavioural needs.

The strategy recommends zoos and aquariums apply the Five Domains welfare model. The model includes four physical/functional domains including nutrition, environment, physical health and behaviour, and one mental domain, together giving insight into overall welfare status. The strategy includes nine chapters, including recommendations and checklists for each topic. Recommendations include continued education and training of staff in animal welfare, a commitment to animal welfare research, continued application of animal welfare knowledge to exhibit design, and striving to be leading centres for animal welfare.

WAZA believes that zoos and aquariums have a responsibility to take the animal’s interests at heart, reflected in ethical and scientific animal care and welfare programmes, with activities underpinning positive animal welfare.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.