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Animals 2018, 8(7), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8070110

Assessment of Welfare in Zoo Animals: Towards Optimum Quality of Life

1
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7AL, UK
2
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo Animal Welfare)
Full-Text   |   PDF [258 KB, uploaded 4 July 2018]

Simple Summary

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.

Abstract

Zoos are required to maintain a high standard of animal welfare, and this can be assessed using a combination of resource-based and animal-based indices usually divided into behavioural indicators, physiological indicators and clinical/pathological signs. Modern animal welfare assessments should aim to encompass positive affective states and the indicators that are useful in assessing these are discussed. When developing factors to be scored for each species, there is huge variability in the available information about the natural biology for some zoo species and even less information concerning those animals in captivity. 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. When planning a welfare strategy for any species, it is important that the full range of their biological requirements and needs are considered, but this can be challenging for some zoo species and it is not possible to define a “one size fits all” welfare strategy. 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. View Full-Text
Keywords: zoo animals; welfare; quality of life; lifetime experience; animal welfare assessment grid zoo animals; welfare; quality of life; lifetime experience; animal welfare assessment grid
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Wolfensohn, S.; Shotton, J.; Bowley, H.; Davies, S.; Thompson, S.; Justice, W.S.M. Assessment of Welfare in Zoo Animals: Towards Optimum Quality of Life. Animals 2018, 8, 110.

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