Registered Charity in England & Wales No.1165941

How Zoo Evaluations are Driving Change in Vietnam


Pushing Forward Zoo Evaluation Expertise in Vietnam

As a founding member and former executive director of the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA), Dave Morgan has dedicated his career to elevating zoo standards globally. From serving on the WAZA council and committees to contributing to Species360 and the IUCN’s CBSG, he has witnessed firsthand the immense potential zoos hold for animal conservation and public education.

In the final throes of 2023, Wild Welfare’s Dave Morgan journeyed to Vietnam for our concluding fieldwork project of the year. In association with the Vietnamese Zoo Association (VZA), Dave was present to progress auditing activities, as well as delivering a presentation at their annual meeting in Hon Dau, an island off the east coast of the country.

During the seminar, Dave discussed the cycle of care for animal welfare, highlighting the important differences between simply measuring the health of an animal, and the overall welfare experienced by that animal. He also talked through the varied roles of animal caregivers, veterinarians, and facility managers, examining the parts they all have to play to create better welfare opportunities for the animals under their care. There were 40 delegates in attendance, representing 23 zoological facilities across the region.

Following the meeting, Dave accompanied three VZA auditors as they travelled to two facilities within Vietnam to conduct animal welfare audits. Wild Welfare has in previous years assisted and mentored VZA in the development of their own Animal Welfare Standard with an audit process against their Standard, that aims to objectively assess animal welfare across an entire facility. The audit process is designed to emphasise and prioritise where improvements are most needed, and what these might look like. The two zoos visited were originally audited by VZA auditors prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and these were follow-up visits to check whether positive changes and corrective improvements had been implemented as a result of the original review. Dave was there to oversee the performance of the auditors, whom he himself had trained several years prior.

“There was a definite sense of receptivity from both auditors and auditees. Not only was the exercise important in determining animal welfare outcomes but also served as an excellent additional training tool for everyone involved to learn from.” Dave Morgan, Wild Welfare Field Operations.

After the audits were completed, a discussion was had with the VZA team to establish future plans in partnership with Wild Welfare. In 2024 the team have been invited to attend the next annual meeting, as well as hosting workshops on environmental enrichment, behavioural management and specifically, the management of elephants.

Wild Welfare have been working across Vietnam for many years, pushing forward projects such as individual facility support, association collaboration and resource production to advance learning opportunities in animal welfare for Vietnamese speakers. As the number of zoos and captive animal facilities continues to increase across Vietnam, our work helping to address poor standards of animal care and welfare has never been more urgent.


Notes to Editors

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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 a world where every captive wild animal is able to thrive and live a good life. Find out more at Registered charity in England (no.1165941).