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Assessment of Welfare in Zoo Animals: Towards Optimum Quality of Life

By Sarah Wolfensohn, Justine Shotton, Hannah Bowley, Sian Davies, Sarah Thompson, William S. M. Justice

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Maintaining a high standard of animal welfare is essential in zoos, and methods of animal welfare assessment should aim to evaluate positive as well as negative states. The indicators that are useful in assessing these are discussed as there is huge variability in the available information about the natural biology for some zoo species. Wild baselines are not always the most accurate indicator of what is right for an animal in captivity, which makes the identification of factors to include within species-specific welfare assessment even more challenging. There is no “one size fits all” welfare strategy as it should account for the range of biological requirements and needs, which it is not possible to define for some zoo species. The different approaches for welfare assessment are reviewed, including the development of the Animal Welfare Assessment Grid which offers an evidence-based tool for continual welfare assessment, using technology where appropriate, to facilitate decision making and lead to improvements in the animals’ quality of life.


Katie Osborn

Publication Title Animals
Volume 8
Issue 7
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
Publisher Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Sarah Wolfensohn; Justine Shotton; Hannah Bowley; Sian Davies; Sarah Thompson; William S. M. Justice (2018), "Assessment of Welfare in Zoo Animals: Towards Optimum Quality of Life,"

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  1. Animal roles
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Assessment
  4. Experience
  5. open access
  6. peer-reviewed
  7. Quality of life
  8. Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation
  9. Zoo and captive wild animals
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed