Zoological Collections - Zoo Welfare and Enrichment


Zoo Welfare: Animal Welfare Act 2006

  • The five animals needs:
    • suitable environment
    • suitable diet
    • freedom from disease and suffering
    • suitable social grouping
    • ability to show natural behaviours
  • applies to any animal under the control of humans, domesticated and not in a wild state
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Zoo Welfare: The Animal Welfare Regulations 2018

  • Covers:
    • selling animals as pets
    • cat and dog boarding
    • hiring out horses
    • dog breeding
    • keeping or training animals for exhibition
  • does not cover activities already covered by:
    • The Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses Regulations 2012
    • The Zoo Licensing Act 1981
  • need to obtain a license for relevant activities
  • having inspections by a qualified inspector
  • Animal Welfare Act must be met
  • Licence time goes on a 'risk based' system and can vary depending on factors such as previous success with obtaining a licence and complaints
  • keeping or training animals for exhibition:
    • Also does not include military, police or sport animals
    • does include activities such as mobile animals exhibits
    • includes guidance on records, staff training, meeting the Five Animal Needs, Emergency procedures and group numbers
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Zoo Welfare: Why is animal welfare important?

  • animal physical fitness
  • animal mental wellbeing
  • increased animal success e.g., breeding
  • prevent stereotypical behaviour
  • public perception
  • legislation
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Zoo Welfare: How do we provide good welfare?

  • by housing animals in the correct social groupings, as close as we can get to how they would live in the wild
    • e.g., matriarchal groups, solitary except for breeding, family groups, bachelor groups, correct sex ratios
  • by feeding a nutritionally accurate and balanced diet
    • e.g., fresh fruit and vegetables, the right balance of meat and plant matter if omnivorous, the right quantities of food
  • by housing prey species away from natural predator species
    • reduce stress to the animals
    • prey can smell the predators and vice versa
  • allowing them to show natural behaviours
    • enough space
    • right social groups (social bonds)
    • correct feeding presentation method (e.g., browse, scatter feeding)
  • freedom from suffering
    • keep an eye on social behaviour (e.g., agonistic behaviours)
    • allow the animal enough space to prevent stereotypical behaviours
    • regular health check and vet trips if required
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Zoo Welfare: How can we measure welfare?

  • enclosure usage studies
  • aggression
  • stereotypical behaviours
  • behavioural observations
  • activity time budgets
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Enrichment: What is enrichment?

  • 'the practice of providing animals under managed care with stimuli as natural and artificial objects'
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Enrichment: Why give enrichment?

  • welfare standards
  • more natural time budgets
  • provide mental and physical stimulation
  • interesting customer view point
  • reduces aggression
  • Fun!
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Enrichment: Are there any negatives?

  • expensive
  • time consuming
  • messy
  • needs planning
  • risks
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Enrichment: Types of Enrichment

  • Naturalistic
  • Behavioural
    • also known as environmental enrichment
  • Social
  • Sensory
  • Mechanical
  • Training
  • Nutritional
    • novel food items/different presentation method
    • tongue puzzles, scatter feeding, browse
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Enrichment: Enrichment Design

When designing enrichment for an animal we need to take into account:

  • the animal's natural history and what behaviours you would like to encourage
  • the food items you would want to use (if any)
  • public perception
  • health and safety aspects
  • how would you measure the success of the item?
  • enrichment plan taking into account
    • adaptation to natural habitats
    • effects on animals
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Stereotypical Behaviours

  • 'similar patterns of behaviour performed repetitively with no obvious function'
  • normally abnormal behaviours
  • caused by animals not being able to display natural behaviours or have enough mental stimulation
  • once part of behaviour pattern they can be difficult to remove
  • e.g., self-mutilation, pacing, rocking, water breaking, swimming or walking in circles, bar biting
  • feeding disorders, over-grooming and self-mutilation can all be helped by enrichment
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