Registered Charity in England & Wales No.1165941

Building a Future Where Every Animal Counts

Collaboration, Research & Action
The Wild Welfare Team 2024

Building a Future Where Every Animal Counts: Collaboration, Research & Action

In April 2024 the Wild Welfare team convened in the city of York, UK for an in-person meeting to solidify their commitment to improving animal welfare in captive environments globally. This rare gathering offered a unique opportunity for the team to review the past year’s achievements, while planning ahead for the future. Wild Welfare offers a unique approach to tackling animal welfare issues, combining strategic action with active global outreach. The charity works directly with wildlife facilities and organisations to implement lasting improvements in animal care and welfare. This hands-on approach sets Wild Welfare apart and drives their vision for a world where every captive animal can truly thrive. This vital work is driven by a robust six pillar framework. These pillars act as the foundation for the organisation’s global strategy, shaping both internal planning and external communication. The six pillars include:

• Create animal welfare resources which up-skill animal care staff
• Develop networks which promote good animal welfare outcomes
• Support the development of animal welfare legislation
• Deliver animal welfare training which generates sustainable change
• Improve public understanding of animal welfare
• Develop resources and techniques to improve welfare for animals in the wild

Each programme and project undertaken by Wild Welfare falls under at least one of these pillars, contributing to their roadmap for achieving lasting positive change in captive animal welfare through careful planning, adaptation and continuous monitoring. “Our York meeting served as an invaluable platform to review past achievements and plan strategically for the future.” explained Wild Welfare Director, Simon Marsh

Sarah Bonser-Blake presenting at Wild Welfare meetingSarah Bonser-Blake, Welfare Field Manager was first to present exciting news about the growth of the popular core e-learning resource, as it continues to reach new audiences, in even more languages. Wild Welfare offers a free online programme that up-skills animal care professionals on the most important aspects of animal welfare. This easy-to-use and engaging programme aims to help improve the lives of animals in zoos, aquariums, and wildlife sanctuaries globally. This project addresses Wild Welfare’s first strategic pillar of ‘creating animal welfare resources which up-skill animal care staff’. Positive feedback from users highlighted the importance of the “Wild About Welfare” digital resource, which has now been downloaded over 22,000 times, in over 70 different countries. “We hope this powerful resource will aid to bridge the knowledge and skills gap within the animal care sector” explained Sarah. Exciting plans for the course were discussed, with a plan to expand and release revised updated materials in the near future.

Wild Welfare Director, Simon Marsh, further highlighting the importance of producing freely accessible and engaging animal welfare resources. The Wild Welfare team committed to expanding their online offerings, with a focus on finding support for language translation in order to reach a wider, more diverse audience. Resources such as the free-to-access “Care For Us” guides, provide zoo, aquarium and sanctuary staff with powerful knowledge and practical skill based resources that can directly aid the provision of animal care and welfare in captive facilities. The accessibility of the charity’s resources can have an even greater impact in certain territories where access to free educational materials about animal welfare concepts and husbandry practices is very limited. The team’s commitment to further expanding and updating these resources will allow hundreds of additional animal care professionals to access this vital tools.

Wild Welfare’s global reach was fully displayed as current Director, Simon Marsh and Founder Director, Georgina Groves presented project updates from across Asia. From the support of ongoing developments in animal welfare legislation within Japan to supporting zoo licensing and welfare standards in South Korea. Each initiative directly addressed Wild Welfare’s commitment to both developing networks that promote good animal welfare outcomes (the second strategic pillar) and supporting the development of animal welfare legislation (the third strategic pillar). Wild Welfare’s impact within Southeast Asia was specifically highlighted, citing recent work assisting SEAZA (the Southeast Asian Zoo Association) members with auditor training and accreditation. A further update from a Wild Welfare US initiative in South America outlined the support given to AZAB (the Brazilian Zoo and Aquarium Association) in regard to rolling out zoo auditing and accreditation programmes. To date over 40 AZAB facilities have been audited with the direct support of Wild Welfare personnel, Margaret Whittaker and Dave Morgan, with more than a quarter of these facilities now certified as compliant with the AZAB standards of welfare. Wild Welfare US will continue collaborating with AZAB and its members to continue elevating animal welfare standards and practices across Brazil. By delivering this structured animal welfare auditor training programme, Wild Welfare is directly contributing to its fourth strategic pillar of generating positive, sustainable change. Championing long-term improvements through the vital capacity building of regional auditors is vital for ensuring zoos and aquariums receive the best possible insights to aid improvements in care and welfare for their animals.

Collaboration was a recurring theme throughout the meeting. Active participation in coalitions and partnerships is a deep rooted value of the charity. Key partners include zoo associations, tourism agencies, and established NGOs like IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) and Asia for Animals Coalition, all collectively playing a vital role in helping to achieve the Wild Welfare vision of a world where every captive wild animal is able to thrive. This collaborative spirit extends into research and development, a crucial area for informing future standards and strategies. The team is actively involved in research projects with a number of universities, amongst them currently a focus on animal welfare standards surrounding the often-complex relationship between animal based tourism and animal welfare. That commitment to research is further exemplified by an exciting new project looking at developing a methodology for assessing animal welfare within the global tourism industry.

One of the meeting’s highlights was a presentation by Professor Carol Kline from the Walker Business School at Appalachian State University in North Carolina USA. Her current focus – animal welfare within the global tourism industry – resonated deeply with the Wild Welfare team. Carol, a passionate advocate for improved animal welfare in tourism, presented an overview of our current knowledge of the ‘animals in tourism’ field, one where a great deal more fact finding is needed.

Carol King Presents KeynoteIn 2018, Carol co-founded a non-profit called Fanimal Inc. an organisation dedicated to mentoring future generations entering the animal tourism industry. Recognising the need for a wider conversation, Carol and Jes Hooper (founder of the Civet Project Foundation) joined forces to establish EVAT, Emerging Voices for Animals in Tourism, a platform for global dialogue, perfectly aligning with Wild Welfare’s mission to improve public understanding of animal welfare (fourth strategic pillar). This group held its inaugural conference in March 2023, bringing together researchers and practitioners from across the globe. “One of the biggest challenges in advocating for animal welfare in tourism is the lack of data” Carol explained. Her current work focuses on precisely this – developing a proof-of-concept paper to estimate the number of animals involved in tourism experiences globally. The outcome of this study will be instrumental in understanding the scale and scope of this issue and will help to inform future actions which Wild Welfare and others plan to take.

Animal Experience International, a Canadian based tourism operator, was cited as a good example of how business can thrive while prioritising animal welfare. However, many tourism agencies have yet to integrate animal welfare considerations into their practices and offerings. Similarly, animal welfare organisations haven’t yet fully embraced the great potential of utilising the tourism sector to raise awareness and support for this vital cause. These findings will help to shape future projects that aim to address the issues discussed by working collaboratively with key partners within the industry and bringing together professionals from both welfare and tourism to work towards sustainable solutions.

Team Meeting in York, UKAndy Watson, Wild Welfare’s new Communications Manager, was welcomed in presenting his strategic roadmap outlining the future of the charity’s brand awareness, promotion and engagement efforts. The strategic plan prioritises the growth of a foundational supporter base and amplifying key messages through digital channels, achieved using a multi-platform approach. Wild Welfare recognises the power of digital platforms and compelling storytelling and plans to leverage social media to share engaging content and impactful narratives to connect with an even wider audience. “We will continue to emphasise the importance of fostering partnerships with other organisations, media outlets and educational institutions to disseminate our crucial messages” Andy expressed. By implementing this strategic communication plan, Wild Welfare aims to cultivate a more engaged community of supporters, ultimately improving public understanding of animal welfare matters, firmly delivering on the fifth pillar of their overall strategic framework.

Building on this momentum, the fundraising team, Victoria and Claire, presented a dynamic discussion regarding the importance of securing crucial resources needed to propel Wild Welfare’s mission forward. Emphasis on diversification of revenue streams, with a focus on acquiring major donors, expanding individual giving opportunities and exploring innovative fundraising initiatives took centre stage. The discussion circled back to the importance of powerful storytelling to showcase the real-world impact of Wild Welfare’s work and inspire continued support from donors. By fostering a strong community of donors and securing vital funding, Claire’s fundraising strategy plays a critical role in enabling Wild Welfare to deliver on its six-pillar framework. Ultimately, this comprehensive strategy positions Wild Welfare to achieve its ambitious goals and create a positive and lasting impact for the welfare of wild and captive animals.

As Founder and Board Chair of Wild Welfare, David Jones, put it “We are the only organisation in the world, specialising in wild animal welfare. There is no group globally that has the relevant field experience that our team has and the need for this work and the demand for our help continues to increase”.

The Wild Welfare team left their York meeting with a clear sense of focus on the future. By equipping animal care professionals, advocating for meaningful legislative change, and raising public awareness and understanding of focal issues; Wild Welfare is continuing to build towards a future where every captive animal has the chance 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 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 Registered charity in England (no.1165941).