THE 24/7 APPROACH TO PROMOTING OPTIMAL WELFARE FOR CAPTIVE WILD ANIMALS

Article link to journal available upon publication

ABSTRACT


We have an ethical responsibility to provide captive animals with environments that allow them to experience good welfare. Husbandry activities are often scheduled for the convenience of care staff working within the constraints of the facility, rather than considering the biological and psychological requirements of the animals themselves. The animal welfare 24/7 across the lifespan concept provides a holistic framework to map features of the animal’s life cycle, taking into account their natural history, in relation to variations in the captive environment, across day and night, weekdays, weekends, and seasons. In order for animals to have the opportunity to thrive, we argue the need to consider their lifetime experience, integrated into the environments we provide, and with their perspective in mind. Here, we propose a welfare assessment tool based upon 14 criteria, to allow care staff to determine if their animals’ welfare needs are met. We conclude that animal habitat management will be enhanced with the use of integrated technologies that provide the animals with more opportunities to engineer their own environments, providing them with complexity, choice and control.

KEYWORDS: Animal welfare, Birth to death, Habitat management, Technology, Zoo, 24/7 across lifespan

HIGHLIGHTS

• New holistic conceptual framework in caring for captive wild animals 24/7 across lifespan is proposed.
• Considers individual’s life cycle needs and preferences influenced by a range of variations.
• An animal welfare assessment tool with 14 welfare criteria is proposed.
• Highlights importance of habitat management and use of technologies.

WORKSHOP

The natural history of an animal, its biology, ecology and diet, sensory systems, natural habitat, social structure, major life history events, activity patterns, and human-animal interactions are among the many topics taken into account when developing species-specific animal welfare programs. Looking at the life cycle of a species, we find different life stages commonly divided into birth, baby, juvenile, adolescence, reproductive age, senescence and death. When we consider different life stages we can identify key features and considerations likely to be of importance to the welfare of the species. To manage a species appropriately in captivity, it is important to find out about each of these key considerations and develop a management plan accordingly.

The workshop has 3 sections:

WORKSHOP 1

Goal: To complete the table in relation to ONE specific animal/specific group of animals you and the group are familiar with.

Questions concern the natural adaptations of the species, and how well the individual/group in captivity match these. Please think about details. For example, if you are answering a question regarding locomotion, try to think about all the ways an animal might move. A bird does not fly in only one way, but there are many aspects to flying such as swooping, gliding, diving, turning. Other factors such as distance and height the birds naturally fly in, together with their field of view, and the environment they land on are also important. Describing the details allows us to highlight what natural adaptations and capacities animals have and how this compares to the current environment of the individual/group.

Outcome: a list of areas where there is a mismatch that MAY require additional intervention to promote welfare.

WORKSHOP 2

Using an adapted version of the Animal Welfare principles and criteria formulated by Welfare Quality ® complete the table providing evidence you are meeting welfare principles (e.g. what evidence/provision), and if not what steps are being taken to address it? An example might be that you are thinking of land use, try to consider the different complexities like substrates, levels, resting, sleeping and or hiding places, shades and/or transition into water if this is applicable to the species. This can also be related to details on foraging behaviour or social interaction. Describing the details allows us to consider the current environment of the individual/group and how this compares to what we think animals need and want. Think about ALL individuals in the group, and across all seasons, events etc..

Outcome: a list of areas where you feel that the evidence/provision is lacking (noting age/seasonal differences).

WORKSHOP 3

Outcome: a list, in order of priority, of up to three actions to take forward, together with the rationale for action.

BASIC ASSUMPTIONS OF THE WORKSHOP ARE:

• To optimise welfare, and ensure “fit for purpose” (e.g. specific requirements as research model, zoo exhibit, candidate for reintroduction, companion animal, farm animal etc.).
• Consider the birth to death experience, to take into consideration age profile, seasonal changes, climatic and routine/work changes (e.g. training shows, visitor numbers, study requirements).
• Consideration of primarily individual animal welfare but also the need to consider effect other members in group, care staff, visitors (veterinary care etc.).

DOWNLOAD WORKSHOP EXAMPLE
Please click to download Workshop Welfare 24/7 across Lifespan Example Zoo-housed Common Marmoset Family

TABLE 1

Examples of key features at different stages of an animal’s life

The natural history of an animal, its biology, ecology and diet, sensory systems, natural habitat, social structure, major life history events, activity patterns, and human-animal interactions are among the many topics taken into account when developing species-specific animal welfare programs (see our website www.247animalwelfare.eu for a worked example with common marmosets). Looking at the life cycle of a species, we find different life stages commonly divided into birth, baby, juvenile, adolescence, reproductive age, senescence and death. When we consider different life stages we can identify key features and considerations likely to be of importance to the welfare of the species. The table below provides examples highlighting these features across a wide range of species. To manage a species appropriately in captivity, it is important to find out about each of these key considerations and develop a management plan accordingly.

DOWNLOAD 24/7 LIFE STAGE TABLE 1

Please click to download 24/7 Life Table 1 & References