Registered Charity in England & Wales No.1165941

Working with zoos and animal welfare NGOs in Japan

a polar bear walking through its zoo enclosure

Working with zoos and animal welfare NGOs in Japan

Following a visit in May this year, we were back in Japan recently, working with Japan’s zoo association and a local animal welfare NGO.

Wild Welfare presented a two-day workshop to members of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA), and held an animal welfare seminar with the Japan Animal Welfare Society (JAWS Japan).

The workshop was part of our ongoing project with JAZA, running for three years now. More than 50 people attended from 30 or more JAZA facilities across the country, receiving presentations on the topics of animal welfare concepts, animal enrichment, welfare assessments and specialist geriatric animal care and animal training.

Georgina Groves, said: “As always, we were made to feel very welcome and were very impressed with the hard work shown by participants involved in our training workshops.”

The geriatric animal care and training workshops were given by bear specialist Nicola Field, who joined us on this trip and whose expertise was invaluable – Nicola comes with more than a decade’s experience managing Animals Asia’s China bear sanctuary.

JAZA’s executive director, Etsuo Narushima, said: “Thank you to Wild Welfare for their enthusiastic work. With their collaboration we feel the workshop was successful and our members learnt more about the importance and application of good animal care and welfare.”

We also visited Tokyo and presented at a welfare seminar in collaboration with JAWS Japan. They are one of a number of growing animal welfare NGOs in the country tackling animal welfare reform in all areas of industry, including within zoos.

Being held for the fourth year running, success and demand for our previous seminars saw us carry out a two rather than one-day session this time, presenting to more than 30 veterinary students, veterinarians and government staff, who took part in theoretical and interactive workshops discussing difficult ethical questions and debates surrounding animal welfare.

Georgina Groves, said: “Appropriate ethical decision processes are complex, but an essential tool for the modern zoo and one that should ensure zoos’ animal welfare and conservation goals are underpinned by both sound science and a sound ethical framework.”

JAWS director, Nai Machiya, said: “The Wild Welfare seminar was really popular! We really hope to continue this partnership with Wild Welfare, to help more students, vets and key government staff learn about why animal welfare and assessment is so important for zoos and aquariums in Japan.”

Recent changes to animal welfare legislation in Japan means that under their Act on Welfare and Management of Animals, there were changes to the rules governing keeping certain animal species as pets, unless under specific management.

It is not clear yet what the specific management is or how it will be monitored and Japan continues to lack effective legislation for captive wild animals in public facilities, such as zoos, aquariums and animal cafés.

Georgina Groves, said: “Japan continues to lack specific legislation that effectively protects welfare for captive wild animals. We’re working with a number of organisations to identify how we can help apply such legislation and importantly, help local and national authorities effectively implement it.

“We hope that our charity’s work helping the country’s zoos and animal welfare organisations develop effective zoo guidelines and standards can look to support future legislative changes.”

Japan’s animal welfare Act will next be amended in five years’ time. Wild Welfare’s Japanese projects continue to push for animal welfare advancements and we remain hopeful that ongoing legislation changes will only bring about a brighter future for zoo animals in the country.

Our thanks go to JAWS Japan director, Nai Machiya, for her continued collaboration and organisation and Professor Aki for her translation. Thanks also to all our wonderful translators who work very hard to translate the difficult concepts within our presentations and ensure our trips run smoothly.


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).

Image © Wild Welfare: A polar bear explores its enclosure in a Japanese zoo