A standard is a level of quality or attainment to be achieved. It is used as a measure, norm or model in comparative evaluations. A good animal collection will be held accountable against a number of different standards which can be internationally, nationally, regionally and institutionally created.
The three main forms of standards we are most concerned with are
a)Institutional Management Standards or Guidelines that refer to standards developed internally within a facility,
b) Accreditation Standards that refer to a standard developed by a national or regional zoo association that must be met through an accreditation process
c) National Standard that refers to a legislative standard developed by the relevant authorities.
Wild Welfare has its own Standard called “Fundamental Welfare Requirements in Animal Care” This “Fundamentals” Document is based on the Mellor Five Domains of Animal Welfare Compromise and is derived from over 100 published articles, papers and books on Zoo Animal Welfare.
Institutional (Management) welfare standards are developed by individual facilities to help develop appropriate codes of conduct and specific policies pertaining to welfare within their facility. These standards would be regularly reviewed by an internal committee and would, alongside ensuring best practice, usually support compliance with other external standard requirements.
An accreditation process is usually carried out in an industry body to demonstrate their or their member’s ability to meet the accreditation standards. The process usually then requires those standards to be regularly reviewed, evaluated and for members to held accountable against them.
Accreditation helps provide a public position on the standards a client should expect from that industry body, so for zoos the client is varied, and includes the public, other NGO’s, commercial or charitable partners, sponsors, etc. Accreditation is usually independently reviewed to avoid bias, as is an assessment against pre-determined standards that have been created and agreed within the association body. A good accreditation standard and process helps:
A poor accreditation standard and process:
Animal Welfare Legislation supports compliance of good practice management within captive facilities
Provides clear and concise guidance on management parameters
Supports both generic animal welfare practices and more specific management practices through subsidiary and codes of practice
Provides authority that oversees all institutions and can devolve Powers out to expert committees
Demonstrates national commitment to captive and wild animal care and management
Further to this, a national zoo standard for captive wild animals can provide a backbone for further standards in compliance on a wide range of animal related issues (farming, research, companion, agricultural, entertainment), can be developed to be country appropriate and provides a central Authority for enforcement.
Institutional standards are NOT a substitute for a national standard as they cannot enforce certain standards and are not moderated by a chosen authority, but are created by mostly internal stakeholders. These sorts of guidelines are generally not mandatory but instead provide direction.
Accreditation standards usually represents best practice and quality and must be complied to by Association members.
A national standard or zoo license usually represents something that should be relatively achievable but gives authority to an external power to implement these guidelines through it’s primary legislation.