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Article

Welfare Assessment for Captive Anseriformes: A Guide for Practitioners and Animal Keepers

by 1,2,* and 2
1
Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour, Psychology, Washington Singer, University of Exeter, Perry Road, Exeter EX4 4QG, UK
2
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire GL2 7BT, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(7), 1132; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071132
Received: 30 May 2020 / Revised: 19 June 2020 / Accepted: 1 July 2020 / Published: 3 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Development and Assessment of Animal Welfare Indicators)
Zoological collections are constantly working to find new ways of improving their standards of care for the animals they keep. Many species kept in zoos are also found in private animal collections. The knowledge gained from studying these zoo-housed populations can also benefit private animal keepers and their animals. Waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) are examples of species commonly kept in zoos, and in private establishments, that have received little attention when it comes to understanding their core needs in captivity. Measuring welfare (how the animal is coping with the environment that it is in) is one way of understanding whether a bird’s needs are being met by the care provided to it. This paper provides a method for measuring the welfare of waterfowl that can be applied to zoo-housed birds as well as to those in private facilities. The output of such a welfare measurement method can be used to show where animal care is good (and should be continued at a high standard) and to identify areas where animal care is not meeting the bird’s needs and hence should be altered or enhanced to be more suitable for the birds being kept.
Welfare assessment is a tool to both identify welfare challenges and to evidence where current husbandry practices support positive welfare outcomes. Such tools are becoming more available and can be amended based on the nature of the facility and needs of taxonomic groups. Currently, welfare assessment has a strong mammalian theme, and some behavioural measures of welfare commonly applied to mammals do not translate well for other taxa. This paper provides a method for welfare assessment of Anseriformes; widely housed, diverse bird species kept under a range of management styles. A mixture of resource-based (i.e., determination of aspects of the physical environment or the bird’s physical appearance or activity) and animal-based (i.e., observations that equate to a bird’s feelings or personality characteristics) measures are integrated to enable a full review of potential predictors of welfare. The method provides a rapid and valid way for all personnel to collect information that evaluates quality-of-life experiences of the Anseriformes under their care. Explanations of key terminology are provided to enable repeatable and reliable assessment for all persons using the tool. Suggestions for follow-up actions are provided to emphasise why the welfare assessment process needs to be one of continual re-evaluation of animal care.
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Keywords: waterfowl; wildfowl; welfare assessment; husbandry evidence; zoo; aviculture; animal behaviour; animal welfare waterfowl; wildfowl; welfare assessment; husbandry evidence; zoo; aviculture; animal behaviour; animal welfare
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MDPI and ACS Style

Rose, P.; O’Brien, M. Welfare Assessment for Captive Anseriformes: A Guide for Practitioners and Animal Keepers. Animals 2020, 10, 1132. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071132

AMA Style

Rose P, O’Brien M. Welfare Assessment for Captive Anseriformes: A Guide for Practitioners and Animal Keepers. Animals. 2020; 10(7):1132. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071132

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rose, Paul; O’Brien, Michelle. 2020. "Welfare Assessment for Captive Anseriformes: A Guide for Practitioners and Animal Keepers" Animals 10, no. 7: 1132. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071132

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