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 the EAZA Animal Welfare Forum. The first EAZA Animal Welfare Forum was to be held in March 2020, with the theme ‘Bridging the Gap: bringing together animal welfare research and application, to improve evidence-based animal welfare best practice’. After the cancellation of the event due to covid-19 there has been a number of additional online resources disseminated in its place. The next Animal Welfare Forum will be held in March 2022. 
  • ‘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: 

  • Supporting the EAZA Animal Welfare Forum, including the virtual proceedings of the 2020 event and the planning for the future forum to be held in March 2020.
  • The development and upkeep of the Animal Welfare Assessments Library 
  • The Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) – Animal Welfare Liaisons Project

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 project 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:

 
 
 

Virtual EAZA Animal Welfare Forum

EAZA presents this webinar series (Welfare Webinar Wednesday’s) which draws on presentations from the EAZA Animal Welfare Forum. The forum was to be the first of its kind hosted at Apenheul Primate Park in March of this year, but unfortunately the event had to be cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic. We are now launching some of the forum topics virtually! Please see the links below to the recorded webinars below and join our Facebook Group for information about the upcoming webinars.  

Developing a welfare risk assessment tool

Institutional Welfare Assessment Tool Development and Application; unexpected learnings with Dr Sally Sherwen

This webinar will focus on the process that Zoos Victoria went through in developing a welfare risk assessment tool based on the five domains (with collaboration with Prof David Mellor). The process has been trialled and refined over the past 4 years, and as such, they can draw on a relatively long-term dataset to present changes and progress over time. Sally will also discuss the challenges and limitations of the process, as well as the value it has brought to advancing welfare standards across Zoos Victoria

Click here for the webinar recording

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Designing cognitive bias tests

How can we tell if animals are optimists or pessimists? Designing cognitive bias tests to measure animal welfare in zoos and aquaria with Dr Isabella Clegg

Cognitive bias tests can reveal whether animals make more optimistic or pessimistic judgements of ambiguous stimuli. They remain one of the most valid tools for measuring welfare, where results show animals in poor welfare judge more pessimistically, and vice versa. While these tests have been widely applied to farm, domestic and laboratory species, only a few studies have taken place in zoos and aquaria.

This presentation will explore the opportunities of cognitive bias testing in zoos, managing the many uncontrollable variables in this environment, and how understanding cognitive bias can help caretakers to enhance welfare

Click here for the webinar recording

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The importance of nutrition in animal welfare

Welfare starts with broccoli: What is nutritional welfare and how can I make sure my animals have it? with Dr Francis Cabana

Nutrition is fundamental in animal welfare and has a much bigger part than you think. The first step is giving the right nutrients for the species, activity level and life stage. This sounds straightforward but depending on the species, you may have little to no information to tell you what is ideal for them, so we need to use a number of techniques to assess how adequate the diet is. Last step is how you present the diet to stimulate natural feeding behaviours, which we tend to describe as enrichment – Francis just calls it nutrition welfare

Click here for the webinar recording

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Zoo visitor-animal interactions

Zoo visitor-animal interactions: a framework to progress our understanding of impacts on animal welfare with Prof. Vicky Melfi

People are a defining feature of zoos and the appreciation that they impact animal welfare is growing.  Zoo visitors can have positive, negative or no impact on zoo animal welfare.  Reviews of the growing body of research studying zoo visitor-animal interactions (ZVAI), identify that patterns are hard to discern across studies. Vicky suggests this is because not all ZVAI are equal and therefore comparisons need to be considered carefully.  Drawing on functional differences between ZVAI, from the perspective of how they are implemented are described here, and proposed as framework for considering ZVAI in the future.  The proposed framework aims to provide a transparent, systematic and objective approach to considering ZVAI, when considering how they might impact animal welfare.

Click here for the webinar recording

 

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Behavioural diversity

Behavioural diversity as a potential positive indicator of animal welfare with Dr Lance Miller

There is growing evidence that behavioural diversity may be a positive indicator of animal welfare.  Validating positive indicators of welfare is critical because absence of negative indicators of welfare does not demonstrate an animal is in a good state of welfare. The presentation will highlight historic research on the topic of behavioural diversity as well as provide some new data that lends further support. Specifically, the presentation will highlight behavioural restriction and impacts on animal welfare, positive animal management situations that lead to higher behavioural diversity, the relationship between stereotypic behaviour and behavioural diversity, and relationships between behavioural diversity and physiological indicators of animal welfare.

Click here for the webinar recording

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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’  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 measures, 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 sally.binding@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 publicly, please see below for the welfare assessment library for public use.

 EAZA Animal Welfare Assessments Library: 

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