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TSS Talk: The welfare of wild animals in captivity and their behavioural management.

Date: 4 July 2019
Time: 8pm
Venue: The Secretariat, Sabah Society
Speakers: Dave Morgan and Margaret Whittaker

Historically it has been very difficult to define animal welfare for both wild animals and domestic animals alike. Perceptions of animal welfare are culturally sensitive, globally variable and subject to change through time and this has consequently led to various indices being used to measure or assess welfare that are not addressing the true nature of animal welfare.

Animal welfare is a concept that has a diversity of definitions, and perhaps even more misunderstandings. And it has been stated that there is no consensus on how to measure the welfare status of an animal objectively or the welfare implications of any given management practice.

With regards to zoos, and given these challenges, the difficulties this creates for zoos, regional zoo associations and regulatory agencies to systematically measure and improve animal welfare across multiple institutions, habitats and species is clear.

As a result of the lack of consensus on a definition for animal welfare and how to measure it, there are many different ways that welfare is interpreted and consequently managed, resulting in varying standards of care.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association… “Animal welfare means how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives.

An animal is in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behavior, and if it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. However, using the most up to date knowledge emerging from welfare research, it is clear that this should go further than simply avoiding unpleasant states such as pain or fear and actively pursue positive states such as happiness, joy and contentment.

Evidence is showing that more and more species are being identified as sentient, i.e have the ability to feel and have a consciousness just like humans, then simply providing for their basic needs and minimizing negative states is perhaps not enough to really promote positive welfare. These presentations address this need and the methodology for captive wild animal welfare going forward.