Whenever Wild Welfare visits Brazil, it’s always a whirlwind trip and this time around was no exception. At the end of October we returned to Brazil to continue working with the AZAB (Association of Zoos and Aquaria Brazil) team. This was to continue to help train and conduct critical Brazilian zoos welfare audits as part of an ongoing welfare certification process that we helped set up. Getting this certification is not just a tick in a box; instead it is a seal of approval that the facility has a high standard of care and welfare for the animals and is constantly striving for even further improvements. Evaluating whether a facility meets the AZAB standard of animal welfare thorough welfare audits is part of the process. After conducting three audits in Parana State during this visit, a total of 26 Brazilian zoos and aquariums have undergone audits to date, of which nine facilities have attained certification since the inception of the process in 2016. Dave Morgan, Wild Welfare’s Field Director is very pleased with the progress.
“AZAB in partnership with Wild Welfare have attained just over 50% of the planned audits by 2022 and the AZAB certification standard and process demonstrated, yet again that it is a robust animal welfare protocol.”
However, that wasn’t our only reason for visiting South America. The charity was also enlisted to help find partner zoos which could help them work towards improvements for the welfare of the animals in their care.
Our Partner for Animals programme has been going from strength to strength with recent successes being celebrated in Thailand. Whilst in Brazil we wanted to emulate the achievements of Asia by developing a relationship between another lead zoo and some of the facilities we were working with in south America through our relationship with the Association of Zoos and Aquaria Brazil (AZAB). The expertise in animal care and welfare that keepers can provide, as well as encouraging the exchange of knowledge between the facilities, is vital for the success of this project.
“The Partner for Animals programme will assist facilities in reaching accreditation standards and drive higher wild animal welfare practices across Brazil. This is a true partnership, where all will benefit, the animals and the staff at the zoos and aquariums.” said Simon Marsh, Operations Manager
The aim of this tour of Brazilian facilities was to develop relationships with some of the facilities within AZAB interested in the Partner for Animals programme. Challenges facing the staff at these facilities were discussed and future opportunities were considered through the possible involvement in the Partner for Animals programme.
In the spirit of cooperative alliances, Wild Welfare was very grateful for the help of Dr Claudia Igayara (president of AZAB), Claudio Maas (the previous president of AZAB), Katia Cassaro (from Beto Carrero World) and Margaret Whittaker from Creative Animal Behaviour Solutions who has helped on some of our previous projects. We would also like to thank the directors and staff of the zoos we visited.
Facilities within Brazil (and worldwide) often share common welfare challenges. Identifying these challenges act as our focus points for consideration and action that ensure that the animals within experience the best care possible. A lack of species-specific enclosure design and a lack of appropriate space was one of the common challenges that leads to poor well-being for animals. Identifying specific solutions through simple changes in management and design along with a re-evaluation of space usage within the enclosure and an appropriate enrichment programme can all help improve the immediate welfare of the animals under care. Other issues such as nutrition, documentation and management of confiscated pets were all highlighted and are also areas for improvement that are being addressed.
Importantly, the attitude of the staff we encountered showed passion for their animals and an eagerness to learn. As well as that, there was never an incidence of an animal being shut out of an area and forced to be seen by the public. Every single animal had a choice to retreat to its house and that is of the utmost importance when it comes to animal welfare.
Overall, our visit to Brazil was a successful and heartening one. The teams we met with are eager to join the Partner for Animals programme as they can see the benefits in developing their welfare standards and gaining accreditation.The AZAB accredited members are keen to become involved in this partnership as well and collaborate with their colleagues in improving animal welfare across the association. Critically though, it is the zoos and aquariums who are asking to go through the animal welfare audit and accreditation process. This shows a strong desire and commitment to make improvements for the benefit of the animals across many zoos within Brazil and we are delighted to see the enthusiasm with which these facilities are undertaking positive change.