WAZA's Approach to Animal Welfare

WAZA Definition of Animal Welfare

Animal welfare refers to a state that is specific for every individual animal; it is how the animal experiences its own world and life through its association with pleasant experiences specific for that species such as vitality, affection, safety and excitement, or unpleasant experiences such as pain, hunger, fear, boredom, loneliness and frustration.

Many of these experiences can be generated through features of an animal’s diet; environment; physical health and fitness (including injury and disease); social environment (including interactions with humans); and its ability to fulfil the species specific and individual animal’s behavioural motivations to have positive physical or social experiences. An animal’s welfare state can be influenced both positively and negatively by all parameters of its living environment with husbandry practices (i.e. animal care) being only one of them. The ability to have species specific choices and individual control over their environment are very important contributing factors for positive animal welfare.

– Definition approved by the WAZA Council on 8 October 2020.

WAZA 2023 Animal Welfare Goal

In 2019, the WAZA Council affirmed WAZA’s commitment to animal welfare and continuous improvement of welfare standards globally, by approving the 2023 WAZA goal on Animal Welfare evaluation processes. The goal states that by 2023:

  • WAZA National and Regional Associations must have an animal welfare evaluation process in place, and such a process must include specific elements approved by WAZA.
  • All WAZA institutional members must be compliant with this process.

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.

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