The care an animal receives is very much dependent on the people providing that care. As an organisation, Wild Welfare works extensively with animal care staff around the world and recently one of our team was invited to Barcelona, Spain to speak to nearly 200 zookeepers about animal care and welfare.
The International Congress of Zookeepers (ICZ) is a conglomerate of zookeeper associations from around the world. Every three years, a four-day conference is held with the aim of bringing together animal care staff to share ideas and research. With a total of 194 delegates from 26 different countries, the congress was an opportunity for Wild Welfare’s Animal Welfare Field Manager Sarah Bonser-Blake to discuss the ways in which animal care and welfare are inextricably linked.
Sarah’s presentation was one of 44 talks given during the congress. There was significant diversity in the topics explored, ranging from transporting animals during the pandemic to the conservation status of several species native to Spain, such as the Iberian lynx and Mediterranean monk seal. The entirety of the conference was bilingual with lectures delivered in English or Spanish and translated in real time. The theme of this year’s conference was “Conserving Our Future.”
During her 20-minute talk, Sarah examined what the term “welfare” means to animal care staff, and what the difference is between the care which is provided to animals and what the animals themselves experience. It was also an opportunity to share the vision, mission and action of the charity with an international audience.
As an organisation, Wild Welfare utilises the most up to date evidence-based research to guide its global projects and training, therefore the lecture made reference to Mellor’s 5 domains model, as well as several research papers examining optimal husbandry practices and outcome-based goals.
“Since the last congress, there seems to have been an increasing shift towards examining welfare concepts and their application to animal care. There were several talks besides my own putting welfare into the spotlight and it was fantastic to hear some of the innovative ways in which teams were implementing positive welfare changes within their facilities.” Sarah Bonser-Blake, Animal Welfare Field Manager.
The conference was held in the first week of October, encompassing World Animal Day on October the 4th. This also happens to be International Zookeeper Day which is an annual opportunity for the dedication and hard work of animal care staff around the world to be celebrated.
Wild Welfare often forms partnerships and collaborations with networks of zookeepers globally. From sharing knowledge and expertise on animal management practices to working directly with animal care staff in the field, the Wild Welfare team are always hugely grateful for their passion and support in helping to push forward our animal welfare projects.
An official partnership between ICZ and Wild Welfare was cemented in 2021, with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two organisations, with the aim of joining forces to further develop global welfare capacity.
By providing educational resources and training to animal care staff, whether in a conference setting or in a zoological facility, Wild Welfare is ensuring the opportunity for advanced learning into the specific skills needed to care for wild animals. This can have a significant influence on animal management activities such as feeding, cleaning, health care, enclosure design and enrichment which will, in turn, have a positive impact on animal welfare. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that animals under human care are able to thrive.
Notes to Editors
For more information or interview requests please contact Wild Welfare on firstname.lastname@example.org
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).