Wellington Zoo has been recognised for excellence in animal care in a recent audit for animal welfare accreditation.

A formal audit of animal welfare here at the Zoo was undertaken by the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA) in late 2015 – the first audit for the Zoo since the new ZAA Accreditation Program began. With a focus on going beyond neutral animal welfare states to reaching positive animal welfare states, the accreditation programme is a first for the zoo and aquarium community – showing that the standard for animal welfare is being assessed and regarded as a key success factor for a good zoo. 

“I’m proud that our team have achieved ZAA Animal Welfare Accreditation,” says our Chief Executive Karen Fifield. “Good zoos know animal welfare is our top priority, and our community can be proud to know that we constantly strive to provide animals with the best possible lives. Our Animal Science team was established last year to support our Animal Care teams and leads the way for animal welfare as the first team of its kind in the country.”

The Animal Science Team includes our Animal Welfare Advisor, Dr Bridget Brox, and our Nutrition Advisor, Henk Louw. They are focused on the Five Domains of animal welfare – assessing physical well-being through health and nutrition, through to emotional and mental wellbeing and behavioural and physiological needs.

The dynamic team is led by Animal Science Manager Simon Eyre, who works closely with zoos across the region and all over the world to coordinate species management and conservation breeding recommendations within Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA) member institutions.

“Being a good zoo is about helping to save animals in the wild through support from breeding and recovery programmes for endangered species,” says Simon. “Our collection development strategy is focused on endangered species survival, and animal welfare is the cornerstone of this work.”

“Gaining accreditation through the ZAA Accreditation Programme demonstrates the high level of animal welfare we have established here at Wellington Zoo,” says Simon. “From behavioural enrichment through to expert veterinary care, our team are able to give our animals a really good life.”

Our Animal Science Team undertake non-invasive behavioural research which supports and guides our large Animal Care team, who provide daily care for every animal at the Zoo. The establishment of the Animal Science Team follows on from the Animal Welfare Committee we founded in May 2014. With external representatives from the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Massey University, Wellington City Council Environment Committee, as well as Zoo staff, the Animal Welfare Committee ensures that the animals at Wellington Zoo have their quality of life needs met, and that the Zoo is positioned as a leader, advocate and authority on animal welfare best practice. 

Find out more about positive animal welfare through the ZAA Accreditation Program.