Animal welfare standards of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is "the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.” According to WAZA, animal welfare of animals in zoo includes "an animal’s diet; environment; physical health and fitness (including injury and disease); social environment (including interactions with humans); and its ability to fulfill the species specific and individual animal’s behavioral motivations to have positive physical or social experiences.”
To ensure animal welfare, WAZA calls on member organizations to:
Develop an animal welfare charter for your organization that reflects a clear commitment to animal welfare principles.
Cater to the physical and behavioral needs of animals when providing for their care. This includes creating opportunities for them to benefit from rewarding challenges and choices whenever that is practically feasible.
Seek to continuously improve animal welfare understanding to better promote positive welfare states in all species held by your organization.
Implement science-based animal welfare monitoring processes that use indices aligned with the animals’ physical/functional states and behavioral activities.
Use the ‘Five Domains’ model to understand and assess different animal welfare states.
Promote knowledge and understanding of animal welfare and its management within the wider community. (Read more here.)
Besides, the interaction with humans shall follow the Guidelines for Animal - Visitor Interactions of WAZA.
Regulation in Asian Countries
In the United States, the framework is based on the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on the federal level. Some state laws also have the anti-cruelty provision for the zoos. The AWA sets minimum standards for the animals exhibited in zoos, and the ESA applies to those animals listed as threatened or endangered. American Zoo Association (AZA) set higher standards of care for their members. (Read more here.)
In Asian countries, the welfare standards in zoos are not consistent according to the understanding and the law on animal welfare or general animal protection.
In China, the main sources for the protection of animal welfare in zoos are the City Zoo Management Regulations (城市动物园管理规定) and Opinions on Further Strengthening Zoo Management (关于进一步加强动物园管理的意见). “The planning and design of the zoo shall adhere to the principles of a beautiful environment, suitable for animal habitat, growth and exhibition, ensuring safety, and convenience for visitors...”(Regulation Article 7.) "The zoo should supply feeds suitable for the animal’s diet in guaranteed quality and quantity; build cages suitable for animal’s living habits, safety and sanitation, and facilitate operation and management, and be equipped with necessary heatstroke prevention and cold protection facilities; strengthen the construction of veterinary hospitals and take necessary disease prevention and treatment measures for Animals are provided with necessary medical protection; the carcasses of dead animals are properly handled; animal performances are not allowed; and animals are not disturbed and stimulated.”(Opinion, Section 2, Article 4)
In Japan, according to the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals (1973), (revised in 2013) the anti-cruelty and duty of care provisions (Articles 2 and 7(1)) apply to animals in captivities, but exclude fish. A person or an organization must obtain a permit from the governor to open or operate a zoo. The Act sets forth requirements on the structure and size of zoos, and the method of caring for the animals held. (Article 10) The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) have requirements includes references to animal care for its members. Although there is no policy or legislation related specifically to zoos, the Ministry for the Environment is working with the JAZA to introduce standards and mandatory regulations. The animal welfare of the zoo is a new concept but the awareness is increasing.
In South Korea, zoos are governed by the Act on the Management of Zoos and Aquariums (2016). According to the Act, the actions are prohibited with penalties of abusing animals, inflicting injuries by tool, drug, etc, beating or inflicting injuries for advertisement or exhibition, and withholding food or water from animals or neglecting animals suffering a disease. (Article 7 and 16)
In India, any animals kept in any zoological garden or by any society or association which has for its principal object the exhibition of animals for educational or scientific purposes are not covered by Chapter 5 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 (Article 27). Chapter IVA of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, set up the Central Zoo Authority (Article 38A) to "(a) specify the minimum standards for housing, un-keep and veterinary care of the animals kept in a zoo; (b) evaluate and assess the functioning of zoos with respect to the standards or the norms as may be prescribed; (c) recognize or de-recognize zoos;.... "(Article 38C) According to the Recognition of Zoo Rules 2009, contains restrictions on the acquisition of zoo and circus animals and their treatment in captivity, requiring that all enclosures are designed in order to meet the full biological requirements of animals, to have space for free movement and exercise, and to ensure that groups are not unduly dominated by individuals.
In Indonesia, the Instruction of the Minister of Home Affairs) on the Cultivation and Management of Flora and Fauna Gardens in Local Regions (1997) and Decision Letter of the Minister of Forestry and Estate Crops No. 479 (1998) concerning Conservation Bodies Plants and Wildlife (1998) are with regard to the establishment of zoos in Indonesia. The Decision Letter regulates the licensing procedures, criteria, requirements, rights and responsibilities of zoos. The recommendation letter of Indonesian Zoo and Aquarium Association (PKBSI) also works with the local governments and the Minister of Forestry.
In Thailand, the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act 1992 sets out provisions for wildlife sanctuaries and public zoos. The Act was most recently amended in 2014. Part V is on Public Zoo, and this document does not mention animal welfare.
In the Philippines, the Animal Welfare Act (1998) provides general provisions for animal welfare of animals in captivity. According to it, zoos must be designed with environmental enrichment facilities to minimize the risks of development of neurotic behavior in the animals (section 22.214.171.124). The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (2001) provides animal welfare and anti-cruelty provisions for exotic species in captivity. In May 2019, the Philippine Zoos & Aquariums Association announced that, in partnership with the Bureau of Animal Industry, it would begin drafting a Philippine Zoo Welfare Standard and Guidelines.
In Malaysia, Section 10 of the Wildlife Conservation Act (2010) requires all zoos, commercial captive breeding facilities, circuses, and other wildlife exhibitions to have a license to operate. Wildlife Conservation (Operation of Zoo) Regulations (2012) regulates that all animals be provided with not only the natural diet of the species but also is required to contain all necessary nutrients and provided in sufficient quantities.
Zoos may have a positive side with regard to educational purposes, but they have a negative impact on animals and using them for entertainment. The alternative ways, such as animal sanctuaries, are better solutions for conservating animals and educating children/students. For animal welfare in zoos, regulations and NGOs shall work together to ensure that zoos are within the right framework. Individuals and activists can educate the public to let them have an awareness of the welfare of the animals in captivity.