Measuring Animal Welfare Nadja Wielebnowski, PhD Conservation and Research Manager Oregon Zoo
Zoo Animal Welfare Science: An Emerging Field
Animal Welfare Committee Promoting Excellence in Animal Care • Established in 2001 • Formal inclusion and recognition of animal welfare as a central tenet of AZA’s animal programs
AZA AWC Welfare Definition Animal Welfare refers to an animal’s collective physical, mental, and emotional states over a period of time and is measured on a continuum from poor to excellent.
Implicit Concepts • Emotional & cognitive experiences • “Cradle to Grave” • Tradeoffs • Measures of good welfare
Resource Based Assessments: AZA Accreditation Enrichment + Enclosure Design + Nutrition + Research Programs + Veterinary Care + Husbandry Training + Population Management + Staff Training Maximize the Welfare Potential
Beyond Great Care Great care is a prerequisite for good welfare. For animals to thrive we need to take into account psychological aspects of welfare such as mental, emotional, and social health.
Animal Based Welfare Assessment • At individual animal level • Relative, not absolute • No single measure
Types of Welfare Assessments -Behavior Time budgets, behavioral diversity, activity, species-appropriate behaviors -Physiology Hormone levels, stress response, reproduction, nutrition - Physical Appearance & Health Body condition, muscle tone, species-specific health parameters
Behavior Lab – Oregon Zoo • Behavior Check sheets • Data Collection Apps • I-Pads • Camera/Video Recording • GPS/Accelerometers • VAST Volunteers!!!
Behavioral Indicators Positive: Self maintenance, curiosity, play, high behavioral diversity Negative: Stereotypic behaviors , aggression, self-injury, low behavior diversity
Endocrine Lab – Oregon Zoo Hormone Monitoring: Feces, Urine, Saliva, Serum
Physiological Indicators Measuring Hormones: • Reproductive function • Adrenal function/stress response CH 3 C O H 3 C H 3 C O
The Stress Response “Good” versus “Bad” “Distress” “Eustress” Gorilla 600 500 1800 Fecal Corticoids (ng/g) 1600 Feacl glucocorticoids (ng/g) 400 1400 1200 1000 300 800 600 400 200 200 0 100 Days of Study 0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57
Physical Indicators • Good body condition and weight • Fur, feather, skin condition • Reproductive success
Combining Measures Elephant Welfare Project 2010-14 70 AZA Zoos 255 Elephants 26 researchers Goal: Provide objective baseline data and identify risk factors that may impact welfare
Combining Measures Elephant Welfare Project 2010-14 • Body Condition & Health • Physiology • Behavior • Personality • Social Interactions • Space Use/Activity
Family Matters! • Multigenerational, matriarchal herds • Males and females • Calves
Social Complexity and Choices • Variable groupings • Time alone
Exercise - Motivation Is Key <2 miles/day >15 miles/day
Space • Complexity of space • Substrate • Interaction and Choices
Foraging/Feeding • Diversity • Predictable/Unpredictable
Ongoing Data Collection • Physiological data (fecal and serum samples) • GPS/accelerometer data • Behavior data (video tapes, cameras, observers) • Body condition and other health parameters New PhD Student, Sharon Glaeser
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