Executive Director and CEO Ron Kagan last year addressed the topic of zoo animal welfare as a featured speaker at the Chinese Zoo Association's annual directors' meeting, which resulted in an invitation from China's three largest zoos to assess their animal welfare practices.
"It's impressive to see how zoos in China are focused on achieving world-class conditions. They are very open and keen to know our views on animal welfare and best practices," said Kagan. "We are looking forward to working again with our Chinese colleagues on this important endeavor."
During the evaluations, Kagan will meet with senior leadership, veterinarians and curators working directly with the animals to gain an understanding of the zoos' provisions for welfare. He will review animal habitats and indoor spaces and consider the suitability of the environments for the species and individuals living at each zoo.
Factors to be assessed include the size and complexity of habitats, the types of substrates used and whether environmental features are species-appropriate. Diets will be examined to determine if they are nutritionally complete and presented in as natural a way as possible both in form and timing. Kagan will also seek an understanding of the zoos' management practices and policies that impact animal welfare and how they are created and monitored.
The assessments at the three zoos will be followed by a four-day workshop delivered by DZS Chief Life Sciences Officer Scott Carter and Director of Animal Welfare Stephanie Allard. Leaders from all three Chinese institutions will participate in the workshop, entitled "From Good Care to Great Welfare", which will include lectures, discussions, exercises and hands-on experiences.
"The goal of the workshop is to help participants gain a better understanding of how animals in captivity experience their world and to ensure that they are not only providing good care but also enabling the animals to experience great welfare," Kagan said of the program that is also offered and hosted periodically at the Detroit Zoo through the DZS's Center for Zoo Animal Welfare (CZAW).
CZAW is a resource center for captive animal welfare knowledge, research and best practices; a convener and forum for exotic animal welfare science, practice and policy discussions; and a center conducting research and training, and recognizing advances in exotic animal welfare. For more information, visit www.czaw.org.