Registered Charity in England & Wales No.1165941

Wild Welfare Invites Collaboration on Animal Welfare Training

Animal Audit Training with Anthony Morgan

From Audit to Action: Wild Welfare Invites Collaboration on Animal Welfare Training

For the first time ever, global animal charity Wild Welfare brought its international team and key partners together for a pivotal training session in South Africa. The crucial 3-day workshop focused on calibrating the team’s auditing approach, ensuring consistency across their high-quality assessments of zoos, sanctuaries, and aquariums around the world. Ultimately contributing towards achieving their mission of ending the widespread suffering of captive wild animals.

Training room at Cango Ranch Wildlife ReserveAfter a twenty-plus hour long journey, members of Wild Welfare and Wild Welfare US arrived at the Cango Wildlife Ranch, located just north of Oudtshoorn, in the Western Cape province of South Africa. This great location would provide an ideal backdrop for the upcoming events.

The event would centre around the Wild Welfare field team engaging in training to ensure their core animal auditing standard is applied in a structured way as advocated by professional auditing organisations, such as the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO). ISO defines an “audit” as a ‘systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which Standard criteria are fulfilled’. Or, in other words, a structured and impartial review process. Wild Welfare have been conducting animal welfare audits, including the training of auditors around the world, for more than a decade. After Wild Welfare’s inception in 2012, the necessity for a ubiquitous standard was clear. This led to the creation and eventual update of the ‘Core Standard of Welfare Practice for Captive Animals’, revised in March 2023 in partnership with IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare). This comprehensive benchmark functions like a blueprint for animal care, outlining all essential elements that contribute to the physical and psychological well-being of animals in a captive environment. In a similar way to how a ruler provides consistent measurements of length, the Core Standard provides a clear framework for objectively evaluating animal welfare practices. However, as with a ruler, knowledge and understanding are required to use this tool effectively, relying on a team of experienced and well-trained auditors to assess facilities against the outlined criteria.

Fast forward to South Africa 2024, where the Wild Welfare field team is ready to be fully equipped with the latest knowledge and techniques to conduct future audits with even greater precision and impact.

“There is a need to continually update and adapt our resources and training material to ensure they align with new animal welfare research findings and evolve with our understanding of what good animal welfare practices look like.” – Simon Marsh, Director at Wild Welfare

The workshop, led by distinguished ISO-accredited quality control auditor, Anthony Morgan, provided a wealth of insights from his decades of auditing experience. The impact of ISO standards universally cannot be overstated, they ensure consistent quality and safety across a vast array of industries, helping to shape the safer, more efficient, and responsible world we know today. Dave MorganWild Welfare’s Standards mirror these principles, emphasising the importance of measuring current practices against recognised industry standards and how to monitor and maintain the quality of audits. This ultimately helps facilities to identify areas where animal welfare can be improved, such as where staff training is needed in animal care and welfare practices or implementing species specific enclosure design changes which will achieve positive welfare outcomes for the animals. Trainees at the Oudtshoorn workshop explored all of the core principles that define an effective, professional, reliable and valuable audit process. This scientific and systematic approach by Wild Welfare provides zoos, sanctuaries, and aquariums with a valuable insight into where welfare improvements can specifically be made, acting as a vital catalyst for delivering positive and meaningful well-being change.

“Wild Welfare and our partners are incredibly grateful to Cango Wildlife Ranch for hosting our important training and workshop sessions. The location provided the perfect setting to ensure a productive and engaging learning experience for all attendees.” – Simon Marsh

Auditing requires a great deal of insightful judgement and professional due diligence, therefore making relevant knowledge acquisition a vital part of the role.

Wild Welfare advisor and collaborator Dr. Lisa Yon was on hand to provide additional training around the latest research on new techniques for evaluating animal welfare, which have been used in a variety of species, and could provide new insights into the welfare of wild animals. As Founding Director of the Elephant Welfare Project, Lisa also shared her invaluable expertise on elephant caregiving. This insight into research conducted by Lisa, who is an Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, particularly focused on assessing and improving the welfare of captive elephants.

“Our project works in close partnership with colleagues from captive elephant facilities to find ways to provide the best possible welfare for all elephants under human care – Dr. Lisa Yon, Vice Chair, Elephant Welfare Group UK”

The Elephant Welfare Project has developed evaluation and monitoring techniques to enable elephant keepers, mahouts and managers to use their observations of their elephants’ behaviours to monitor welfare over time. Their welfare tool (available as an Wild Welfare and collaborators in session at Cango Ranch Wildlife ReserveApp which can be used on phone, tablet or computer) can be used to inform changes in management, husbandry and facilities to improve the welfare of captive elephants worldwide. Any time an assessment is conducted, an automated report for that elephant is sent to the submitter, with summary charts and graphs so that users can rapidly identify trends and changes in that elephant’s welfare, to allow early detection of any problems. This App is provided at no cost to any facility working with elephants, so that cost is not a barrier to adoption. The EWP team provide training and advice to captive elephant facilities globally, in an effort to support and encourage positive welfare for elephants across the globe.

Collaborations such as this ensure up to date knowledge and practices developed using rigorous scientific methods are openly shared across the animal welfare field, contributing towards the ultimate aim of improving the lives of all animals under human care. Utilising this deeper knowledge when conducting animal welfare audits undoubtedly improves the accuracy and effectiveness of reports and in turn the value of the output for the associated animal facility.

Dr Yon was also joined by Dr. Ann Wilson, a prominent figure in welfare education. Dr. Wilson’s extensive background in animal welfare began with a Diploma in Nature Conservation in 1997, followed by a pivotal internship in the Kruger National Park. Her specific expertise on the welfare of African lion cubs in the interaction tourism industry proved invaluable during the workshop, particularly during discussions surrounding specific practices within the wildlife tourism sector.

“This training is critical in our mission to drive up animal welfare standards globally. As we continue to delve deeper into the wildlife tourism sector, it is crucial that we comprehend the specifics of particular practices such as the cub petting industry. Ann’s talk was a sobering examination of an industry that prioritises financial gain over animal welfare.” – Simon Marsh

Papers of learningThe positive impact of this training extends far beyond the walls of the Cango Wildlife Ranch workshop. Hundreds of zoos, sanctuaries, and aquariums, globally, benefit from Wild Welfare’s expertise, fundamentally benefiting thousands of captive animals globally. By empowering the Wild Welfare team to provide even more effective guidance, this training can directly translate to better standards of living for countless animals in human care around the world. The emphasis on consistent auditing practices ensures a level playing field, guaranteeing that all facilities can be evaluated fairly and objectively using the same rigorous standards. Departing from South Africa, the team left with a renewed sense of purpose. Each small step forward brings them closer to their vision of a world where every captive wild animal is able to thrive and live a good life.



Notes to Editors

For more information or interview requests please contact Wild Welfare on

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 a world where every captive wild animal is able to thrive and live a good life. Find out more at Registered charity in England (no.1165941).