This month we’ve been back in Thailand, working again with the country’s zoo association, the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand (ZPO). Last year we visited three of ZPO’s seven member facilities, supporting continued efforts to make animal welfare improvements across the zoos. ZPO’s team has already implemented a number of key management practices that support improvements in animal care, and we were able to discuss future initiatives that can support continued improvements. We were also delighted to be joined by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) welfare team, who provided specific expertise and information regarding WAZA policy and membership.
For this visit, we were invited to carry out a full welfare collection assessment utilising our assessment methodology. This assessment is a tool designed to gather information about a whole collection and identify animal welfare gaps and animal welfare opportunities to provide conditions that are likely to facilitate positive welfare states in animals. We assess against Wild Welfare’s Fundamental Welfare Requirements for Animal Care which is derived from more than one hundred published articles, papers and books on zoo animal welfare. It is from this source that reliable, informative and simple management practices can be adopted that improve and provide positive animal welfare. Our checklist has a number of different sections all of which have been identified as critical activities for effective welfare management.
We carried out full collection assessments at three different facilities for the ZPO and were fortunate to visit another two zoos. Throughout the week we provided animal welfare-themed lectures to more than 50 members of staff and practical sessions on identifying environmental, nutritional, behavioural and health indicators that impact animal welfare. Behaviour is how an animal communicates its internal emotional response and we talked about the importance of recognising species-specific and individual behavioural needs and responses to enable a thorough assessment of an individual’s welfare state. We were also joined by a number of zoo keeping and curatorial staff during our actual assessments around the zoos, where we were able to provide direct advice and recommendations to a number of enclosure designs and management practices.
The enthusiasm to improve animal welfare within the zoos we visited is phenomenal, and we were really pleased to see some improvements since our initial visit in 2017. We hope that our more detailed assessments will support the ZPO’s efforts to identify further improvements in animal management, that have long-term implications for animal welfare, as well as meet any required standards of care and welfare.
A huge thanks to the ZPO team for their fantastic organisational skills that got us visiting so many zoos in one week!
Images: Above- Wild Welfare and the team from Khon Kaen Zoo, Left – some of the fantastic ZPO Team!