Welfare Assessment Tools in Zoos: From Theory to Practice

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Narelle Jones, Sally L. Sherwen, Rachel Robbins, David J. McLelland, Alexandra L. Whittaker
Veterinary Sciences
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Zoos are increasingly implementing formalized animal welfare assessment programs to allow monitoring of welfare over time, as well as to aid in resource prioritization. These programs tend to rely on assessment tools that incorporate resource-based and observational animal-focused measures. A narrative review of the literature was conducted to bring together recent studies examining welfare assessment methods in zoo animals. A summary of these methods is provided, with advantages and limitations of the approaches presented. We then highlight practical considerations with respect to implementation of these tools into practice, for example scoring schemes, weighting of criteria, and innate animal factors for consideration. It is concluded that there would be value in standardizing guidelines for development of welfare assessment tools since zoo accreditation bodies rarely prescribe these. There is also a need to develop taxon or species-specific assessment tools to complement more generic processes and more directly inform welfare management.


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