The Wild Welfare team were back out in our project countries recently with a visit to Thailand and Vietnam. The aim of the trip was to observe and give input during the implementation of the animal welfare evaluation process conducted by SEAZA (Southeast Asian Zoos and Aquariums Association).
SEAZA and Wild Welfare have been working together to drive forward captive animal welfare improvements since 2016 across their 50 zoo and aquarium members in nine countries.
Over nine days the auditor teams from SEAZA, National Association and Wild Welfare were focussed on evaluating two SEAZA as well as WAZA members zoos: Chang Mai Night Safari in Thailand, and Saigon Zoo in Vietnam. The SEAZA animal welfare standard and the SEAZA Code of Ethics and Welfare were used to assess where animal welfare needs were being met and where action was needed to improve animal care and management. Once improvements are made, it can lead to better welfare outcomes for the animals within these facilities.
These improvements could include:
- A healthier, balanced diet and more opportunities for animals to undertake natural feeding behaviours.
- Changes in enclosures for a better, more comfortable home.
- Enrichment programmes to encourage play and cognitive stimulation.
- Better management of health care for animals.
- Improved record keeping systems for the entire facility.
- Compliance to SEAZA animal welfare standard and best practices, to ensure positive mental states for all animals under human care.
Helping SEAZA to meet good welfare standards through their certification programme has been an ongoing process with this latest evaluation being the next step along the journey. In 2018 Wild Welfare supported the development of SEAZA’s own Animal Welfare Standard and certification process, which also aligned with the WAZA animal welfare evaluation process.
A set animal welfare standard can be used as a benchmark to measure animal welfare assessments against, therefore making evaluations strategic and helping to prioritise where the most essential improvements need to be made. This approach can help all SEAZA members to work towards raising care and welfare standards within their own facilities.
Whilst Wild Welfare encourages SEAZA and its members to adopt the Wild Welfare Core Standard, the development of their own standard can be sympathetic to cultural differences whilst still considering the welfare needs of the animals under their care.
After the SEAZA standard was developed in 2018, we helped put it into practice in 2019 with the first SEAZA members going through the evaluation. This happened in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, and began the long running relationship we now have with Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand (ZPOT), and other national associations. This relationship has led to many collaborations in animal welfare improvements over the years.
SEAZA were on track to conduct several more evaluation processes across the region when the pandemic caused an abrupt pause to the proceedings. Once restrictions lifted, some evaluations were conducted and now SEAZA can start carrying out assessments again with international and national auditors.
“While we were conducting the evaluations it was a good opportunity to assess how the SEAZA standard is being applied. I also pinpointed where there are areas to improve the wording of the standard and strengthen the welfare evaluation process in the future.” Simon Marsh, Wild Welfare Director.
There were also discussions on how Wild Welfare can work with SEAZA members in training and building capacity of the future auditors and other SEAZA member animal care staff. This could include bespoke animal welfare workshops and use of our translated resources to help animal care staff recognise what good welfare looks like, and how best to promote it. This ensures that animal welfare improvements are long-term and can provide sustainable solutions to the critical areas of welfare concern identified in the evaluation.
There are several more SEAZA members to evaluate before the end of the year and we look forward to continually assisting SEAZA in facility evaluation and certification procedures.
Notes to Editors
For more information or interview requests please contact Wild Welfare on firstname.lastname@example.org
Wild Welfare is a global organisation committed to improving animal welfare for captive wild animals. By uniting the world’s leading zoos, zoo associations and animal welfare organisations, we build trusting partnerships that help provide long-term solutions to critical wild animal welfare issues.
Our vision is to end the suffering of captive wild animals around the world and ensure full and sustainable protection is given to all animals in human care. Find out more at wildwelfare.org. Registered charity in England (no.1165941).