Registered Charity in England & Wales No.1165941

Auditors Assemble! Upskilling Welfare Auditors Across Southeast Asia


Auditors Assemble! Upskilling Welfare Auditors Across Southeast Asia

The Wild Welfare and Wild Welfare US teams recently visited Chiang Mai, Thailand to join forces with the Southeast Asian Zoos and Aquariums Association (SEAZA) to deliver a week-long programme of auditor training sessions. This intensive course aimed to equip participants from regional zoos and aquariums with the skills and knowledge they need to effectively audit against the SEAZA Standard at other member facilities.

The training brought together a total of 43 participants from 10 different countries around the region. Groups were split into two sessions, each including a mix of experienced members and those completely new to the field of animal welfare auditing. This team diversity promoted a dynamic learning space where participants could share their experiences and collaboratively learn from one another.

“The training workshops were well-structured and tailored to meet our specific needs, ensuring that all auditor trainees would walk away with valuable knowledge and skills.” – Mr. Willem Manansang, chair of SEAZA’s Animal Welfare & Ethics Committee

Simon Marsh presenting at SEAZA event in ThailandWillem began proceedings by introducing participants to their Welfare Accreditation programme and the SEAZA Standard, a set of guidelines for auditors to follow when inspecting zoological facilities. The Standard intends to ensure consistent evaluation and improvement across all member facilities. The SEAZA Standard is based upon the widely recognised ‘5 Domains’ model, which evaluates animal welfare by considering the five key areas of nutrition, physical health, environment, behavioural interactions, and emotional state. This aims to ensure that facility audits consider not only the physical needs of each animal, but their ability to express relevant natural behaviours and experience a positive sense of well-being. For instance, this could mean ensuring primates have suitable enrichment opportunities to encourage swinging, climbing and foraging behaviours.

Auditors practicing their skills at the zooWelfare auditing is not a simple pass or fail system; but a thorough process of gathering rich data for critical analysis. By training more “in-country” auditors, Wild Welfare and SEAZA hope to significantly increase capacity, and in-turn, the quantity and quality of facility audits. These improvements can lead to positive outcomes such as healthier animal diets with more natural or enriching feeding methods, or enhanced enclosures that better emulate an animals’ natural habitat. An audit may for example suggest the inclusion of branches and hanging ropes of varying thickness within an aviary environment, allowing macaws to mimic their dynamic natural movement patterns by providing them with climbing, swinging and exploration opportunities. These sorts of real-world enhancements ultimately translate to more comfortable and stimulating environments for captive animals to live in.

This methodical and targeted approach not only amplifies facilities to take ownership of their own welfare assessment programmes, but encourages perpetual improvements driven by the measured findings of each audit.

“This course has been a crucial step along the journey of advancing animal welfare standards across Asia. By upskilling in-house staff to conduct thorough and objective audits, we can ensure animals in captive environments are receiving improved levels of care and welfare.” – Wild Welfare Director, Simon Marsh.

Iguana sat on log in shadeParticipants of the course engaged in several insightful presentations by the Wild Welfare team members, each covering a variety of relevant topics. An interactive exercise involving a practical mock audit was also conducted. This exercise further helped to solidify the participants’ understanding and working knowledge of welfare auditing. The practical exercise involved members dividing into smaller teams and thoroughly auditing designated sections of the zoo, identifying areas that met or fell short of the SEAZA Standard. This hands-on experience within a real-world setting proved to be an invaluable part of the training programme for all parties. Auditors cited positive findings such as iguanas having access to suitable sun bathing opportunities and binturong having space to explore multiple levels of climbing logs.

Dr. Guillaume Douay, a Senior Veterinarian from Mandai Wildlife Group (Singapore), praised the training as “a really great learning process,” highlighting its clarity and relatable practicality. Nuchjaree Purchkoon, Chief of Thailand’s Conservation and Research Institute’s Animal Management Center, emphasised the value of the shared learning aspects, stating, “We learned from everyone!”. Shaikh Abdullah, a Senior Keeper at Mandai Wildlife Group, spoke of his own learning journey during the practical session, highlighting his shift of focus from aesthetics to a more objective assessment, based on the SEAZA Standard.

SEAZA Auditor Training 2024 Workshop in progressThe training was regarded as a great success by all involved parties, with feedback showing 70% of participants recorded a significant increase in their understanding of animal welfare principles. A significant majority of facility representatives stated that their skills in conducting a welfare audit had improved as a direct result of the training and almost 85% stated they would recommend the course to others. The Wild Welfare team is committed to the continued advancement and progress of developing animal welfare standards across the region.

“While we celebrate this milestone, we remain firmly committed to further improving animal welfare standards across Southeast Asia through collaboration, responding to feedback, and further auditor training.” – Wild Welfare Founder and Field Director, Dave Morgan.

Wild Welfare and Wild Welfare US deliver similar auditor training programmes to regional and national associations around the globe. Feedback from each programme is used to continuously refine the organisation’s approach and delivery of their industry leading training.

“On behalf of the SEAZA organisation, I am pleased to extend our heartfelt appreciation to Wild Welfare for successfully conducting an outstanding 2024 Auditor Training workshop.” – Kumar Pillai, the Executive Director at SEAZA.

The organisers would also like to thank the Chiang Mai Night Safari for generously hosting the wonderful event, sponsor Wild Welfare US and Mandai Nature for their considerate grant which made this vital training possible. Through strong and continued collaborations, an even brighter future for captive wildlife welfare is on the horizon across Southeast Asia.

SEAZA Auditor Training 2024 full group photo



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).