The Wild Welfare team has been in the USA, conducting our first welfare audit for a facility in North America.
After a visit to the state of California, our team also visited Tennessee, a trip which has important ramifications for our continued and future work in Sabah, Malaysia.
The welfare audit took two days to complete and we were pleased to find that the facility was largely compliant with our core fundamental standard of practice for captive animal welfare. We found many of the facility’s animal inhabitants had a rescue or rehabilitation story attached to them.
While there, we were able to watch a training session with a North American black bear (Ursus americanus). The session involved the use of positive reinforcement training (PRT), which can be an excellent management tool when done properly. Using PRT ensures an animal has choice and control over the training session, meaning if the bear did not want to participate that day, he could choose not to.
Our team were joined on the trip by Margaret Whittaker of Creative Animal Behaviour Solutions. She has joined us on previous project visits and her input, particularly when it comes to elephant management, is invaluable.
While in Tennessee, Margaret and the team visited The Elephant Sanctuary, a facility that houses both African and Asian elephants. The 11 elephants that currently call the facility home have been rehomed from performing institutions and now live a life of luxury encompassing expansive space to roam, a varied and naturalistic diet and a stimulating environment.
“The standard of care for these elephants is certainly the highest I have ever seen, it’s quite a facility”, said Dave Morgan, Wild Welfare’s field director.
Two presentations were given to keeping staff; one examined the modern concepts of animal welfare and the other covered how to assess quality of life within animals – the latter is hugely important in order to make objective decisions about animal management and care.
We were heartened to visit the Discovery Centre within the facility, which contains a huge world map on the wall detailing the global projects the sanctuary supports, on which Wild Welfare is represented for our work in Sabah, Malaysia.
Thanks to generous funding from the sanctuary, the Wild Welfare team will be able to continue its work in Sabah into the future. We have a long standing relationship with Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, where we have previously conducted a welfare audit and carried out training workshops Park staff.
Building a relationship with a facility and working to offer long-term support and advice is vital to achieve improvements in animal welfare standards and Wild Welfare is incredibly grateful to The Elephant Sanctuary and all its other generous donors who help us to do this.
Notes to Editors
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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).