Registered Charity in England & Wales No.1165941


What is a Welfare Standard?

A standard is a level of quality or attainment to be achieved. It is used as a measure, norm or model in comparative evaluations. A good animal collection will be held accountable against a number of different standards which can be internationally, nationally, regionally and/or institutionally created.

The three main forms of standards we are most concerned with are:

a) Institutional Management Standards or Guidelines that refer to standards developed internally within a facility,

b) Accreditation Standards that refer to a standard developed by a national or regional zoo association that must be met through an accreditation or certification process,

c) National Standard that refers to a legislative standard developed by the relevant authorities. 

Wild Welfare’s Standard

Wild Welfare has its own Standard called the Core Fundamental Standard of Practice for Captive Wild Animals.

This standard helps support us in evidence-based procedures for the systematic and forensic animal welfare auditing and assessment of captive wild animal collections. The Wild Welfare standard is derived from current and prevailing trends and published literature pertaining to Zoo and Aquarium animal welfare. We are also providing guidance on Zoo Licensing and Welfare Standards that help manage, implement and enforce better welfare standards and practices for captive wild animals. 

The Difference between Institutional, Accredited & National Standards 

Institutional standards are NOT a substitute for a national standard as they cannot enforce certain standards and are not moderated by a chosen authority, but are created mostly by internal stakeholders. These sorts of guidelines are generally not mandatory but instead provide direction.

Accreditation standards usually represent best practice and quality and must be complied to by association members.

A national standard or zoo licence usually represents something that should be relatively achievable but gives authority to an external power to implement these guidelines through its primary legislation.

An Accreditation Process

An accreditation process is usually carried out in an industry body to demonstrate their or their member’s ability to meet accreditation standards. The process usually then requires those standards to be regularly reviewed, evaluated and for members to be held accountable against them.

Accreditation helps provide a public position on the standards a client should expect from that industry body, so for zoos the client is varied, and includes the public, NGOs and commercial or charitable partners. Accreditation is usually independently reviewed to avoid bias, as is an assessment against pre-determined standards, that have been created and agreed within the association body.

A good accreditation standard and process:

  • Determines who is meeting a high standard/quality
  • Represents an assurance scheme standard
  • Supports performance benchmarking
  • Underwrites the associations’ zoo narrative

A poor accreditation standard and process:

  • Fails to address significant animal welfare concerns
  • Dilutes efforts being made to improve animal welfare
  • Reduces credibility
  • Causes a depression in animal welfare

Why provide a national standard for captive wild animals? 

  • Animal welfare legislation supports compliance of good practice management within captive facilities.

  • Provides clear and concise guidance on management parameters.

  • Supports both generic animal welfare practices and more specific management practices through subsidiary and codes of practice.

  • Provides authority that oversees all institutions and can devolve powers to expert committees.

  • Demonstrates national commitment to captive and wild animal care and management.

Further to this, a national zoo standard for captive wild animals can provide a backbone for further standards in compliance on a wide range of animal-related issues, such as farming, research, companion animal, agricultural and entertainment. These can be developed to be country appropriate and provide a central authority for enforcement.

Good zoo standard legislation provides:

Consistent and clear protection for all animals under human care

A chosen authority

Defined parameters through appropriate guidance

Institutionally-applicable information

Support for institutional and national conservation and educational objectives


More on Animal Welfare…

Welfare and Legislation

Animal Welfare Assessments