Earlier this month, animal welfare charity Wild Welfare was invited to carry out training in Ireland for the first time. The charity’s Director, Simon Marsh, delivered a one-day course on captive animal welfare to 30 delegates from captive facilities, such as zoos, aquariums, rescue centres, and farm parks, across Ireland.
Historically, measures of animal welfare would consider factors such as the animal’s physical condition, but Wild Welfare’s training emphasises that when studying an animal’s welfare, it is important to consider all aspects of species-specific needs and how these collectively impact their welfare.
Simon delivered presentations throughout the morning on the difference between animal care and welfare, understanding animal behaviour, why animal welfare is important, and ways to improve welfare by improving care.
In the second part of the training, attendees were encouraged to put their learnings from the presentations into practice by conducting an animal welfare assessment.
Wild Welfare has its own Core Standard of Practice for Captive Wild Animals, that helps support evidence-based assessment of captive animal welfare. Delegates used the charity’s Welfare Assessment Tool to assess whether animals were receiving the appropriate level of care, whether their enclosure is providing opportunities for natural behaviours, and whether the animal’s nutritional and health needs are being met.
Training animal care staff to carry out their own animal welfare assessments increases the likelihood that care teams can identify gaps and opportunities for improved welfare. For example, learning about the benefits and provision of high-quality environmental enrichment could motivate animal care staff to provide such enrichment.
Regular assessments like this help animal care staff to record changes to the care offered to an animal, and monitor how this affects their overall welfare.
The final part of the training day involved a full group discussion about the welfare assessment process. This included how participants scored the welfare provided to various animals, and what corrective actions they would take if needed.
Simon said, “There is such a diverse range of captive wild animal facilities across Ireland. It was great to talk to staff, from large zoos to small farm parks, and hear the different views and challenges they face when trying to achieve good care for the animals.
The attendees were engaged and had the desire to learn more about animal welfare, how to assess it, and how to improve the welfare of the animals. They were enthusiastic and we had several productive discussions on managing social species and identifying positive and negative behaviours.”
The training, supported by Animal Welfare Consultant, Jessica Harley, was freely available to those working in captive wildlife facilities across Ireland. Attendees were from a mix of zoos, aquariums, birds of prey centres, reptile parks and farm parks.
The training was made possible by Zoos.ie and the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS). Wild Welfare will continue to support these training initiatives to build capacity and knowledge in how to provide appropriate care for animals and meet their welfare needs. Wild Welfare’s freely available resources are also available to anyone working with animals in Ireland and the rest of the world, with many resources translate into several languages.
Notes to Editors
For more information or interview requests please contact Wild Welfare at email@example.com.
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).