Registered Charity in England & Wales No.1165941

Specialist Seminar Advances Reptile Welfare in North America


Specialist Seminar Advances Reptile Welfare in North America

Internationally active animal welfare charity Wild Welfare was invited to deliver a seminar specialising in reptile welfare recently. The charity’s resident herpetological expert and Field Director Dave Morgan gave a presentation to 40 members of the Bay area chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (BAAAZK) in June, discussing critical elements of reptile care and how to meet their welfare needs.

The presentation was delivered online to a combination of virtual audiences as well as additional viewers watching from the auditorium at Oakland Zoo. Participants included animal care staff, zoo educators and volunteers, all of whom gave positive feedback on the seminar, despite the challenges presented by the occasional technical difficulty.

Topics included a discussion of the behavioural signs of captive stress in reptiles, which may indicate welfare issues. An example was given specifying how individual snakes, lizards or other species of reptile may interact with transparent boundaries such as glass or plastic traditionally used within vivariums. Behavioural changes in reptiles were also highlighted as these can often be the primary indicator of disturbance, injury, or disease.

I am actually a reptile person by background and training, so it was an especial pleasure for me to talk about a group of animals that I greatly admire. When one thinks of captive wild animal welfare, the lower vertebrates such as reptiles, amphibians and fish are often completely forgotten about, or overlooked. In actuality these animals have exactly the same welfare needs as the larger, more charismatic animals”, said Dave.

Since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, Wild Welfare has been delivering animal welfare training workshops online to their global audiences, ensuring education and empowerment can still reach and teach where it is needed most.

The charity were delighted to be invited to speak with the group. Reptiles have complex welfare needs which can be difficult to meet in captivity, therefore care givers must have a full understanding of the biological and behavioural needs of reptiles to ensure a good level of animal welfare.

“BAAAZK’s goal is to provide animal care professionals from four facilities across the Bay Area of California with opportunities for professional development and continuing education around animal husbandry and welfare. Since all the facilities manage various species of reptiles, we thought it would be a great learning experience to hear from an actual field expert on reptile welfare, highlighting what the current standards for reptile care should include. Via the virtual platform, we were able to reach members from every facility and have had lots of positive feedback from the seminar. We can’t thank Dave enough for helping us do the best for the reptiles in our care. I know I have already started to research some the of the changes suggested to better care for our captive reptiles.” – Alyssa Watt, Vice President of BAAAZK.

Wild Welfare has a number of connections and partnerships with facilities in North America and has recently launched a new charity based in the United States to increase the potential for animal welfare improvements across the globe.


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).