Assessment of Welfare in Zoo Animals: Towards Optimum Quality of Life
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7AL, UK
Marwell Wildlife, Colden Common, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1JH, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 May 2018 / Revised: 26 June 2018 / Accepted: 2 July 2018 / Published: 4 July 2018
Maintaining a high standard of animal welfare is essential in zoos, and methods of animal welfare assessment should aim to evaluate positive as well as negative states. The indicators that are useful in assessing these are discussed as there is huge variability in the available information about the natural biology for some zoo species. Wild baselines are not always the most accurate indicator of what is right for an animal in captivity, which makes the identification of factors to include within species-specific welfare assessment even more challenging. There is no “one size fits all” welfare strategy as it should account for the range of biological requirements and needs, which it is not possible to define for some zoo species. The different approaches for welfare assessment are reviewed, including the development of the Animal Welfare Assessment Grid which offers an evidence-based tool for continual welfare assessment, using technology where appropriate, to facilitate decision making and lead to improvements in the animals’ quality of life.