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Education, guidance and legislation in the UK and overseas

Education, guidance and legislation all play a part in ensuring that steady improvements occur in the quality of life for animals kept in zoos. Research allows us to gain an insight into what may be best for animals, but research alone is not enough. It is also important to disseminate findings and to use scientific research to advance the knowledge and understanding of animal keepers and carers, to provide guidance on best practice, and to legislate where necessary. 

UFAW has been a long-term supporter of educational, guidance and legislative initiatives to improve the welfare of zoo animals. In 1958, Major Hume, the founder of UFAW, served on the newly formed animal welfare and husbandry committee of the Zoological Society of London and for many years, UFAW staff have provided input into national advisory bodies such as the UK Zoos Forum.  

UFAW also laid the foundation for regular monitoring of zoo animal welfare. In the 1970s inspection of zoos to ascertain the welfare of animals was not formally required, therefore UFAW’s own veterinary surgeons and zoologists carried out a great number of inspection visits to zoos in the UK and also in West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Canada. Inspection visits were both independent and carried out in cooperation with the Zoological Association of Great Britain. Zoo inspections became a formal requirement in 1984, under the 1981 Zoo Licensing Act, and Roger Ewbank, a previous Director of UFAW, was one of the first zoo inspectors to be appointed.

UFAW contributed to the working party setup by the Government’s Department of the Environment to prepare the Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice. These standards, which were issued as an adjunct to the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, detailed best practice and offered guidance for local authorities (who would later become responsible for inspecting zoos). These standards are still being used today to protect the welfare of zoo animals and they have recently been updated to include guidance specifically related to elephants following a recent research project commissioned by Defra (the findings of which have been published in the UFAW journal Animal Welfare: https://www.ufaw.org.uk/downloads/chadwick.pdf).

In the 1980s UFAW assisted in writing the syllabus and training manual for the ‘Certificate In Zoo Animal Management’, the first such course on this subject, and with the Zoological Society of London held a seminar on Environmental needs of primates in captivity. UFAW also supported the production of various educational videos and guidance notes.   

Ms Alison Ames and Dr Trevor Poole (UFAW Deputy Director at the time) both presented papers at the first International Symposium on Environmental Enrichment, held in Portland USA (1993) and Dr Poole was a member of the coordinating committee for subsequent meetings. Additionally, UFAW published information on: ‘Inexpensive Ways of Improving Zoo Enclosures for Mammals’ (1995).

Today UFAW continues to support developments in wild animal welfare science through supporting individual researchers in their work, through supporting educational workshops and conferences in the UK and overseas. From 1991-2015 UFAW provided significant support for the Zoo Outreach Organisation’s work (ZOO) to improve zoo standards in Asia through education and training initiatives. Together with ZOO, UFAW produced ‘Practical elephant management: A handbook for Mahouts’ which included information delivered at UFAW supported mahout training courses. UFAW also provides input into legislative consultations or non-governmental organisational strategies where necessary (such as the production of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums Animal Welfare Strategy in 2015).

Selected papers published in the UFAW Journal, Animal Welfare:

Hitchens PL, Hultgren J, Frossling J, Emanuelson U, Keeling LJ. 2017. Circus and zoo animal welfare in Sweden: an epidemiological analysis of data from regulatory inspections by the official competent authorities. Animal Welfare, V26(4), pp 373-382. UFAW.

Chadwick CL, Williams E, Asher L, Yon L. 2017. Incorporating stakeholder perspectives into the assessment and provision of captive elephant welfare. Animal Welfare V26(4), pp 461-472. UFAW.

Brown C. 2013. Animal Welfare: emerging trends in legislation. Animal Welfare, V22(1), pp 137-139. UFAW.

Appleby MC. 2004. Science is not enough: how do we increase implementation? Animal Welfare, V13(Suppl. 1): 159-162. UFAW.

Radford M. 2004. Informed debate: the contribution of animal welfare science to the development of public policy. Animal Welfare, V13(Suppl. 1): 171-174. UFAW.

Agoramoorthy G. 2002. Animal welfare and ethics evaluations in South East Asian zoos: perspectives and prospects. Animal Welfare, V11(4), pp 453-457. UFAW.