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The Zoo-Well Assessment
Projects
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The Zoo-Well Assessment is an holistic approach to creating species-specific welfare assessments.

Development

The Zoo-Well Assessment was created using a similar approach as the The Cetacean Welfare Assessment©, or C-Well. Each Zoo-Well Assessment is species- and/or taxa-specific and applies measures developed from the published literature as well as from expert opinion and feedback. Using the Five Domains of Welfare Model (Mellor), we establish measures intended to assess an animals' nutrition, environment, physical health, behaviour, training, and enrichment by linking each criteria to natural history aspects or health parameters of the species. Throughout the process, professional expertise from other welfare scientists, veterinarians and animal care staff are systematically included. Measures are then applied practically by implementing the assessment with the species at hand, and adjustments to the assessment can be made as needed.

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The ultimate goal of any welfare assessment is to include validated measures, those that have been scientifically demonstrated to measure welfare. While we always prioritise including validated measures in our assessments, we also rely on the wealth of information available in the literature and animal care field. Our mission is to provide objective welfare information to zoo stakeholders to allow them to make evidence-based decisions, and we have found that welfare assessment frameworks allow us to advise zoos in a highly transparent, standardised, and effective manner. Since each Zoo-Well Assessment is specifically crafted for a specific species or taxonomic group, this method allows us to dive deeper into the unique behaviours, challenges, and issues that each animal and species may encounter in a managed setting. This results in the ability to make specific recommendations based on animal needs as well as any facility-dependent context to address welfare concerns and to improve or build upon current protocols and programs. 

Current status

The Zoo-Well Assessment library continues to grow as we develop assessments for more and more species. AWE is especially keen to address the gaps in zoo animal welfare science by developing standards and assessments for species that are lesser known, or largely absent from the literature (e.g., rare species, reptiles, birds, fishes, and invertebrates). Additionally, AWE rises to address the unique welfare assessment needs of facilities and the species they manage. If you are interested in applying the Zoo-Well Assessment at your organisation, please

"Dr. Clegg's objective approach to welfare assessment delivered clear actionable recommendations for strengthening a well-developed existing program. She was professional, accommodating, and clear in her communication from planning through delivery of a final report."

—  Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois, USA

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