Follow all the latest news and updates from the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE) in Edinburgh.
The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education aim is to strive towards improving the quality of life for all animals through education, training and by influencing policy at the highest level.
Tuesday, 1 October 2013
Zoos - Arks for the future?
Staff at the JMICAWE believe firmly in engaging with all
types of industry to promote animal welfarethrough education, and influencing policy and practise. This applies
even to industries that are sometimes controversial, such as zoos.
Its important to remember that many zoo staff are dedicated
to the care of their animals, and this September the carnivore keeping team at
the Copenhagen zoo hosted a Carnivore Welfare Seminar. Speaking on topics
including veterinary care, enrichment planning, and nutrition, JMICAWE
veterinary surgeon Heather Bacon was delighted to see some of the progress made
in the Copenhagen zoo in terms of animal enrichment, operant conditioning and
the openness of zoo staff to discuss problems and deliver to their animals the
best care that they could.
Heather also attended last week’s meeting of the European
Association of Zoos and Aquaria, where she presented on her current research
into a needs analysis, and development of animal welfare education for zoo
The meeting highlighted a number of conservation and welfare
issues facing the zoo industry including reproductive problems and low breeding
rates, and the negative impact of the zoo industry on conservation through
illegal wildlife trade. Chris Shepherd of the Wildlife trade monitoring network
Traffic, delivered a number of presentations highlighting conservation issues
relating to trade across a range of species. This includes the purchase of
wild-caught animals from fake ‘captive-breeding’ farms in South East Asia, by
Dr Barbara Mabel of the University of Glasgow presented on a
similar theme, highlighting how molecular genetics had indicated the
wild-caught origins of many African wild dogs in captivity in the EU, and recommended against further importation of
African Wild dogs from South Africa to boost European stocks, due to the lack
of transparency on the dogs’ heritage, and the potential impact on wild
Whilst it is very positive to see the steps being taken by
zoos across Europe to invest in greater animal welfare training for their
staff, and to implement positive practises to improve the quality of life of
captive wild animals, it is important that the keeping of wild animals in
captivity is justified and meets minimum conservation and husbandry
requirements. Zoos may try to provide the best welfare possible for the animals
they house, but if their presence supports animals being traded from the wild,
even if through covert, illegal channels, then the welfare of the individuals
going through that process will always be severely compromised. It is
imperative that transparent and traceable systems are employed by zoos to
minimise their impact on free-ranging wildlife populations, and to ensure the
welfare of animals within the zoo industry.