About the Center for Zoo Animal Welfare
A Human Model
Human medicine offers a compelling model for considering the unintended effects that zoos may have on the animals in their care. Some hospitals have challenged widely held presumptions that they only help patients and have found, despite good intentions, their efforts can actually result in unintended harm to patients. Internal focus on the issue led to assessment of unintended consequences in patient care and changes in how some hospitals operate. The Center for Zoo Animal Welfare parallels this work for captive exotic animals.
Ensuring Captive Animal Welfare
Ensuring the well-being of captive exotic animals requires acknowledgement of fundamental issues:
- An individual’s overall mental, physical and emotional state (referred to as welfare or well-being) is determined solely by that individual
- Captive exotic animals must be able to exercise relevant and meaningful control and choice in their lives.
- Good care is not the same as good welfare.
- Constant, rigorous evaluation of captive environments and practices is essential.
- Sharing of information and open dialogue is essential.
Individuals and species for some, ensuring the well-being of individuals (animal welfare) conflicts with ensuring the well-being of species (conservation). Animals that are old, non-breeding or otherwise not considered valuable are often viewed as competitors for the resources in zoos. We can and should balance the needs of both individuals and populations by developing programs that ensure the well-being of both.