Registered Charity in England & Wales No.1165941

From Virtual To Vietnam


From Virtual To Vietnam

We have been taking our online learning programme from theoretical to practical learning in recent months with a visit to Vietnam.

Simon Marsh guiding the group through an enclosure assessment exercise.

After the successful completion of the in-person practical training event for the Wild About Welfare Digital Education Programme in Laos, our team headed southeast to undertake the same training programme in Dong Nai province, Vietnam.

In partnership with Free the Bears and Cat Tien National Park, a five-day training event was hosted in November to bring together Vietnamese animal care staff from across the country. Animal caregivers from six different animal sanctuaries were in attendance including staff from Free the Bears, Animals Asia, Four Paws, Endangered Primate Species Centre and two government-run wildlife rescue facilities. It was calculated that a total of 309 bears were within the care of this assemblage of people, alongside many other endangered animals such as primates and reptiles.

The Wild Welfare team with Thuong Ta and two course participants after receiving their certificates.

The aim of the programme was to support capacity building within animal care teams through increasing knowledge and understanding of animal welfare. Attendees can feel confident in the application of that learning through their daily animal care activities. Using the freely accessible modular content from our acclaimed online learning programme, the in-person course took the learning experience one step further, including practical activities and group discussions to support theoretical knowledge.

The learning content for the training course was available entirely in Vietnamese, being one of the three languages which the education programme has already been translated into. Further translations such as Bahasa Indonesian and Thai are planned for future launches.

The training was a great success with attendees enjoying the opportunity to learn and network. The national park location also offered the opportunity for students to see wild animals in their natural habitat such as an elephant which interrupted an enclosure assessment activity, and a family of gibbons who were intrigued by the nutrition module.

“I was so amazed that all candidates from different backgrounds and different facilities (NGO and government) were so engaged in the training, especially with the practical sessions. They were proactive to debate and share their own experiences to figure out the best possible solutions to improve the living conditions of the animals under their care. After the training, everyone was very happy and kept in contact with each other for further exchange. All of them confessed that they really want to join another training course with more practical sessions.” Thuong Ta, Sanctuary Manager, Free the Bears.

We have been collaborating with organisations in Vietnam for many years already, with field projects including welfare audit training for the Vietnamese Zoological Association (VZA) and practical support for specific facilities. Field project activities are aimed at advancing animal welfare within Vietnam, including in wildlife rescue centres which are continuing to take in wild animals in response to the illegal trade in wildlife. Many of these animals are unable to be released back into the wild therefore life-long care is provided in captive facilities.

Sarah Bonser-Blake and the learners talking through the interactive quiz for the environment module.

This in-person edition of the digital education programme was designed in response to feedback from Japanese users who were reluctant to utilise the programme due to a lack of familiarity with the content. The opportunity to guide users through the course in-person solves this issue, as well as providing additional support for a range of different learning styles.

Although we know the Wild About Welfare programme has been utilised by thousands of online users, it was brilliant to see the reactions of the participants when they discovered something new. Witnessing the look of realisation on their faces when they understand a new concept is priceless. The graduates from the training will be able to return to their facilities and give their colleagues the encouragement and confidence to complete the course themselves.” Simon Marsh, Wild Welfare Director.

The free-to-access course was created in partnership with the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE) and The University of Edinburgh. It is hosted on Wild Welfare’s website and has seen use from across 63 different countries worldwide since its launch in January 2021.


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).