Registered Charity in England & Wales No.1165941

Animal welfare in Japan

Recent estimates put the number of zoos and aquariums in Japan at more than 3,000. This huge number of facilities, coupled with the fact that animal welfare is still a relatively new concept, means Wild Welfare’s work in Japan is to ensure the country’s captive wild animals living in these thousands of facilities are receiving good care and welfare.

Captive facilities in Japan range from bear parks and aquariums to shopping mall zoos. Japan has been the subject of international condemnation for practices including whaling, the Taiji dolphin drives and its archaic bear parks and more recently growing public concern is leading to criticism of the animal welfare conduct of the country’s zoos and aquariums.

Wild Welfare is working with Japan’s regional zoo association – the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) – which has around 150 members. JAZA has the potential to significantly positively improve animal welfare in Japan with the right support, so we provide training workshops for JAZA staff, hold animal welfare seminars with JAZA and animal welfare groups and carry out wild animal care and welfare training with prefecture vets and zoo vets.

We are also working in partnership with Japanese animal welfare organisations and government bodies, to find the best ways to solve some of the issues facing Japan’s captive wild animals. Current animal welfare legislation in Japan makes little reference to wild animals and has no form of measurable enforcement, with local authority staff having little to no experience in wild animal care and welfare.

By partnering with animal welfare NGOs, including the Japan Animal Welfare Society, the RSPCA’s international team and the Japan Animal Welfare Coalition, our projects are helping to ensure that appropriate legislation, education and training are beginning to make positive change to not only individual animals, but to wild animals collectively across Japan and orchestrating a long-term shift in animal welfare attitudes.