2.10 Animal Welfare

Animal welfare can be defined as the state of the animal as perceived by the animal itself, with regards to its attempts to cope with its environment (Broom, 1986). It is the animal’s own experience and interpretation of its own situation which is important, not our perception of their state or ethical opinion. Promoting positive animal welfare and minimising negative animal welfare experiences is the foundation of good animal husbandry and consequently is fundamental to modern zoo and aquarium research, education and conservation. The use of scientific research to assess and understand animal welfare is rapidly growing and evidence-based animal welfare is increasingly being recognised as integral to best-practice zoo animal management; alongside our ethical responsibility and Duty of Care to promote positive welfare for the animals in our care.
Zoo keepers should strive to progress in the following areas:

  • Theoretical Animal Welfare: zookeepers understand the theory of animal welfare science.
  • Applied Animal Welfare: zookeepers can apply evidence-based animal welfare practice.
  • Animal Welfare Assessment: zookeepers can progress animal welfare best-practice through utilising animal welfare assessments.
Zookeepers working at Competent level can: Zookeepers working at Proficient level can: Zookeepers working at Expert level can:
2.10.1 Theoretical Animal Welfare Summarise what animal welfare is and why it is important
Explain the difference between welfare and ethics
Explain how animal welfare is impacted within zoo animal management including demonstrating an understanding of adopting a holistic approach to animal welfare
Describe different animal welfare models
Engage with animal welfare resources and explain significant of outcomes
Explain the impact of animal welfare on conservation, education and research within zoos and aquariums
Analyse different animal welfare models
Demonstrate an understanding of animal welfare indicators and a range of welfare parameters
Demonstrate an understanding of evidence-based animal welfare research and an ability to extract valid research outcomes
Engage with continued professional development (CPD) opportunities
2.10.2 Applied Animal Welfare Identify welfare considerations in daily husbandry procedures and actions to improve welfare
Demonstrate application of positive animal welfare in daily husbandry
Suggest ways in which animal welfare can be improved
Conduct oneself appropriately when in the vicinity of animals, including adopting appropriate handing and moving of animals
Define the importance of evidence-based animal welfare
Explain how to access evidence-based resources
Demonstrate application of evidence-based animal welfare within a zoo setting and husbandry practices
Evidence record keeping to monitor animal welfare
Demonstrate information sharing within their institution
Develop and implement welfare-based protocols/procedures
Evidence data collection and use of results to improve animal welfare
Analyse records and implement welfare interventions
Demonstrate information sharing/collaboration outside of institution
Demonstrate knowledge of relevant animal welfare legislation
2.10.3 Animal Welfare Assessment Explain what animal welfare assessments are
Summarise why animal welfare assessments are important
Conduct an animal welfare assessment
Identify areas requiring welfare intervention and apply
Summarise considerations for designing, interpretation and completion of welfare assessments
Explain the difference between welfare inputs and outputs and evaluate their value in welfare assessments
Explain different methods/parameters for measuring welfare
Design a welfare assessment and explain validity of parameters used
Demonstrate delivery of a systematic welfare assessment system
Demonstrate delivery of a formalised procedure for application of welfare interventions


Paths to fulfilment

  • EAZA Academy animal welfare-based courses – EAZA
  • Coursera online courses – Animal Behaviour and Welfare – Coursera

Last updated: 30/08/2018