Here we are heading towards the end of 2020 and getting ready to welcome in 2021. It has been a difficult and challenging year for many of us, of that there is no doubt, and Wild Welfare has faced its own setbacks and testing times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in our end of year blog, we’re celebrating the positives and everything we have achieved. With your incredible support we have made great strides forward for animals so thank you all for being there with us.
As 2020 kicked off, we were thrilled to be shortlisted in the Charity Film Awards for our Imagine If animation. We developed the Imagine If film to help people understand the difference between zoos that provide high standards of animal care, that enable their animals to live fulfilling lives and thrive, and zoos that don’t, where animal welfare suffers. Although we didn’t win this time, the recognition and opportunity to spread our message about the importance of animal welfare for captive wild animals was a win in itself.
Spring saw marathon and running events taking place across the UK and in March four of our amazing supporters ran for us in The Vitality Big Half Marathon in London, raising essential funds for our projects and having a great time too (or so they said)! We also set about having our Care for Us resources translated into different languages, to better represent the more than ten countries and languages we work in around the world. To date we now have many of these useful species care guides available in Japanese, Thai and Portuguese as well as English. You can take a look at them all HERE.
In Japan this year, our work towards achieving national animal welfare improvements, as well as making positive changes at facility level, both moved forward. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the UK’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation (YWPF), Wild Welfare and Noboribestu Bear Park (NBP) in Hokkaido, and plans were made for training to look at the challenges faced and opportunities for improving animal welfare practices at NBP.
Training will now take place in 2021 we hope, but not visiting has not stopped the pace at which this project been able to achieve positive change, with Yorkshire Wildlife Park and NBP in regular contact, discussing bear enrichment ideas and the care of the facility’s bears.
As the COVID-19 pandemic showed no signs of enabling us to get back to normal in a hurry, the Wild Welfare team quickly adapted to the changes in terms of not being able to travel internationally and we embraced all that technology can offer. As well as the zoom calls, WhatsApp chats and Facebook Messenger images popping up here there and everywhere from the facilities we work with, we took a lot of our training online.
From India to Korea, and from South Africa to Thailand, our team delivered online training on everything from Oriental stork care and welfare to environmental and behavioural enrichment for wild animals in captivity. And as well as carrying out individual training for facilities as part of our ongoing projects, we packaged many of our training programmes into a Webinar Learning Platform, to ensure we can reach and teach animal care staff across the globe and continue to help animals in need, even when we can’t travel in person.
The final quarter of this year saw no end in more reasons to be positive. Research we conducted with Nottingham Trent University’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, that found welfare concerns linked to the behaviour and mental state of zoo animals was published. Revealing poor animal welfare isn’t positive news in itself of course, but the investigation of the results will help confirm where the gaps are in animal care and welfare knowledge, that are often the reason for these welfare concerns, and show us how we can work to close them.
And then just this month we were able to share the news about partnering with travel companies for better animal welfare in tourism. A new partnership with one of the world’s leading digital travel platforms Booking.com, sees us helping the company implement their animal welfare standards which aim to provide guiding principles on how animals can be a part of the tourism experience in a responsible, ethical and respectful way.
Wild Welfare continues to grow in both strength, person and project. This year we welcomed our first ambassador, best-selling children’s author Hannah Russell, as well as new staff and trustees, all of who bring with them a wealth of experience, dedication and enthusiasm. And we started work in new countries and initiated new animal welfare projects, as well as advancing existing ones.
And then of course we called on you – our wonderful supporters. This year, in these unprecedented times, you have still donated to us, shared our news, promoted us to your friends, fundraised for us and responded to our campaigns. We are so grateful for all your support, it’s with your help we have been able to make such positive changes for animals living in captivity across the world. We wish you a very good Christmas and New Year and look forward to seeing you in 2021.
Image © Arseny Togulev on Unsplash