Two members of the Wild Welfare field team presented at the Annual Congress of the Brazilian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZAB) in November, hosted by the largest captive wildlife facility in Brazil: Sao Paulo Zoo.
Dave Morgan, Founder and Field Director at Wild Welfare, and Margaret Whittaker, Executive Director at Wild Welfare US, presented on animal welfare topics at the 45th annual congress of its kind.
The first of the presentations – a mini-course on output-based welfare methodology for captive wild animals – was delivered to 36 attendees.
What does “output-based welfare methodology” mean?
The way an animal feels about their life and environment is the most important factor in holistic welfare.
Humans control all aspects of a captive wild animal’s life. This “control” is what and how animal care staff input into a system of care. For example, staff will “input” drinking water, and make choices around how, when and where that water is placed.
We can measure the welfare output by how an animal responds to the input. For example, if the location of drinking water within an enclosure is changed, the animal may respond by drinking more water.
The second presentation – delivered to the congress’ 320 attendees – was titled “Animal Welfare: Where are we and where are we going?”
Lucas Simöes Lima, who attended both the mini-course and the evening presentation, said, “In my country, animal welfare can be secondary to monetary gain, which is sad. The sessions with Dave and Margaret were incredible. They are two people who really care and want to make a difference.”
In the days surrounding the congress, Dave and Margaret joined AZAB teams in the welfare auditing of a further five Brazilian Zoos in Sao Paulo State: Zoologico de Sao Paulo, Zoologico de Goiania, Zoologico de Bauru, Zoologico de Catanduva and Zoologico de Sao Jose do Rio Preto.
Welfare audits are a big part of Wild Welfare’s work. They offer a comprehensive assessment of individual captive wildlife facilities to identify gaps and opportunities for improved animal welfare. These assessments are based on the Core Fundamental Standard of Practice for Captive Wild Animals, created by Wild Welfare using over 100 published articles, papers and books on captive animal welfare.
Dave said, “As has become usual at AZAB congresses, the sheer enthusiasm displayed by the congress delegates for advancing the standard of welfare in Brazilian Zoos is deeply encouraging.
Following the conference, we had the opportunity of seeing some of this enthusiasm in action in some of the zoos that we audited with our Brazilian colleagues. Well done AZAB and its members!”
On top of the team giving welfare presentations and carrying out audits, Margaret gave a presentation for Sao Paulo staff to introduce some of the concepts, techniques and tools of elephant foot care, and held 5 practical sessions with the elephants to illustrate presentation topics and allow the staff to put into practice what they’d learned. Foot care plays a role in optimising an elephant’s welfare by preventing abscesses, overgrown nails and the resulting discomfort.
Wild Welfare works with AZAB on an ongoing basis. AZAB currently has a total of 42 member facilities, 36 of which have now been audited by combined Wild Welfare and AZAB teams. We intend to have audited all member facilities by the end of 2023.
Over the course of 2023, Wild Welfare will also be involved in the review process for the certification, welfare standards and checklist processes with AZAB. This ensures that the AZAB auditing process uses the most up-to-date scientific understanding of animal welfare.
Notes to Editors
For more information or interview requests please contact Wild Welfare on email@example.com
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).