ANIMAL WELFARE

EAZA is committed to ensuring promotion of positive animal welfare and being a recognised organisation for animal welfare research and application

EAZA is committed to promoting the positive welfare of animals, not only in our member institutions but also through supporting zoos and aquaria which are currently working towards reaching EAZA’s accreditation standards. EAZA encourages and supports adoption of a proactive approach, to both undertaking and applying animal welfare scientific research. We adopt a multi-faceted, multi-disciplined approach to promotion of animal welfare best-practice via the delivery of animal welfare training and knowledge sharing platforms:

  • The EAZA Academy organises and delivers a range of zoo and aquarium-focused professional training, including animal welfare-based workshops and courses.
  • Development of the Erasmus+ funded European Professional Zookeeper Qualification Framework (EPZQF).
  • EAZA Conference and Forums, including the EAZA Annual Conference, Nutrition Conference, Zoo Educators Conference and launching our first EAZA Animal Welfare Forum in March 2020, with the theme ‘Bridging the Gap: bringing together animal welfare research and application, to improve evidence-based animal welfare best practice’.
  • ‘EAZA Animal Welfare’ Facebook group – sharing evidence-based animal welfare research and application.

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The EAZA Animal Welfare Working Group (AWWG) is currently focused on: 

Animal Welfare Assessments Library and decision-making tool

The ability to assess animal welfare within our zoo and aquarium collections is very valuable tool. Periodic assessment will not only provide understanding of the current state of welfare for the animals in our care, but it will also allow for monitoring in welfare changes and identify areas for welfare improvement. The EAZA Animal Welfare Assessments Library is a collection of previously established animal welfare assessments/auditing tools that have been kindly shared from researchers and animal management institutions. For more information and access to the public Library, please click here

EAZA Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) – Animal Welfare Liaisons

This project is focused on establishing information sharing frameworks and channels between welfare specialists, welfare research and representatives from EAZA Taxon Advisory Groups. This projects aims to ensure scientific developments in welfare best practice are being efficiently shared and utilised in all taxon.

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The EAZA Accreditation system which ensures that EAZA Accredited Members reach EAZA’s Standards of Accommodation and Care of Animals in Zoos and Aquaria, alongside EAZA’s Guidelines, such as the EAZA Guidelines on the use of animals in public demonstrations have now been incorporated into the EAZA Standards on the Accommodation and Care of Animals in Zoos and Aquariums. Those institutions who do not reach EAZA’s accreditation standards have the opportunity to join our Candidate for Membership programme. Candidates for Membership are supported by EAZA and the EAZA Technical Assistance Committee via the mentorship programme and production of EAZA’s Technical Assistance Manual: 'The Modern Zoo: foundations for Management and Development’, to aid them in raising their standards.

 Production of resources, which include article animal welfare information:

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What is welfare?

Animal welfare refers to the physiological and psychological health of an animal – effectively, this is how the individual animal is coping, both mentally and physically with their circumstances. Many scientists and animal management professionals now subscribe to the ‘feelings’ approach, whereby welfare is a reflection of an animal’s mental/psychological health and what they are ‘feeling’. ‘The Five Domains’ model (Mellor and Beausoleil, 2015) highlights four ‘physical/function domains’ and promotes that all physical conditions will have an impact on the animals’ ‘mental domain’. It is this ‘Mental domain’ that gives rise to the animals’ animal welfare status. An animal’s welfare state will be in constant flux along an animal welfare spectrum. Recent years have seen the rise in emphasis of promoting positive mental states; not just mitigation of the negative states. The Five Domains model has been adopted by the ‘Caring for Wildlife: WAZA Animal Welfare Strategy’, which, as Members of WAZA, is the strategy which has been adopted by EAZA.

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For an animal’s welfare needs to be met, a multi-disciplined, scientifically evidence-based approach is required through, for example, the provision of effective veterinary care, meeting nutritional requirements, providing individuals with the opportunity to perform their species-specific behavioural repertoire and promoting positive emotional states. Both ‘environment-based’ (the things that we do as listed above) and ‘animal-based’ measures should be included when assessing welfare, with particularly emphasis on the ‘animal-based’ measures as this likely to be a more representative reflection on how the animal is coping and feeling. Animal-based measures can include behavioural, body condition and hormonal measures. Consequently, the importance of understanding animals’ natural histories, behavioural needs, physical adaptations, biochemistry and physiology, nutritional requirements, evolutionary drives and psychology cannot be underestimated when it comes to promoting positive animal welfare.

Animal welfare science has progressed dramatically in recent years and the methods by which we evaluate welfare are continually evolving. As new research is released and ideas shared our understanding of species-specific, and individual, needs and wants develops. Through conducting this research and applying the knowledge gained, animal welfare best-practice continues to progress.

For more information, please contact the EAZA Animal Welfare Coordinator melissa.broadway@eaza.net.

References

  • Caring For Wildlife: The World Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare Strategy (2015) https://www.waza.org/priorities/animal-welfare/animal-welfare-strategies/ [accessed 8 May 2019].
  • Mellor, D.J., and Beausoleil, N.J. (2015) Extending the ‘Five Domains’ model for animal welfare assessment to incorporate positive welfare states. Animal Welfare 24:241-253.

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Animal Welfare Assessments Library

The ability to assess animal welfare within our zoo and aquarium collections is very valuable tool. Periodic assessment will not only provide understanding of the current state of welfare for the animals in our care, but it will also allow for monitoring in welfare changes and identify areas for welfare improvement.

The EAZA Animal Welfare Assessments Library is a collection of previously established animal welfare assessments/ auditing tools that have been kindly shared from researchers and animal management institutions. The established assessments all take slightly different approaches to welfare monitoring and therefore this gives the opportunity to align your organisations needs with the appropriate pre-established assessments. A decision-making tool has been provided for the full library by the EAZA Animal Welfare Working Group in order to support members in selecting the most appropriate assessment for their needs.

The full library is now available on the Animal Welfare Working Group SharePoint page for EAZA member access. The library will continue to grow with more institutions offering their assessments and more translations of the current assessments being submitted.

 A number of institutions have offered to share their welfare assessment tools publically, please see below for the welfare assessment library for public use.

 EAZA Animal Welfare Assessments Library: 

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