Animal Welfare

Professional zoos and aquariums are committed to promoting optimal animal welfare and to providing environments where animals can thrive. This commitment is fundamental to supporting our goals as modern conservation, education, engagement, advocacy, learning, and research organisations. Significant advances in knowledge about animals and animal welfare science have resulted in big changes in modern zoos and aquariums. Today’s progressive zoos and aquariums must be centres for animal welfare, ensuring that 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 to improve the lives of animals in their care by engaging with and responding to continued challenges of different attitudes, societal expectations and varied jurisdictional frameworks and legislation in the global implementation of animal welfare standards.

The WAZA Animal Welfare Strategy (2015) calls on members, and 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 that zoos and aquariums apply the welfare model of the Five Domains. The Five Domains model includes four physical/functional domains including nutrition, environment, physical health and behaviour, and one mental domain, together giving insight into the overall welfare status. The Strategy includes nine chapters, including recommendations and checklist on different welfare related topics. Recommendations include the continued training of staff in animal welfare science, a commitment to animal welfare research, continued application of animal welfare knowledge to habitat design, and to being leading centres for animal welfare.

We believe 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.