This week we're going to be looking at the welfare and behavior of wild animals kept under human care. For simplicity, we'll refer to this as wild animals in captivity. And this is to distinguish them from free-ranging wild animals who would live in their natural habitat. Wild animals are not domesticated. They haven't been changed genetically in order to benefit humans. And so animals that are maintained in captivity, in situations such as zoos, safari parks, circuses or sanctuaries, retain many of their wild characteristics, and genetically are essentially similar to their wild counterparts. We may tame wild animals in captivity in many different situations. We might have different ethical viewpoints about each of those situations, as to whether we approve or disapprove of them. Those situations may include institutions such as zoos, sanctuaries, circuses, or safari parks. We may make different value judgments about the validity of each of those captive situations. But its important to remember that animal welfare occurs across the spectrum. And whilst we may hold different moral viewpoints about the validity of each of those institutions, what matters is the experience of the animal. So it's important that we put our biases aside and we look at the welfare of the individual animals housed within those institutions. We may have good or bad zoos, good or bad safari parks, and good or bad sanctuaries. And it's important that we judge them on their individual merits and on the animal's experience rather than on our own biases. It's important to recognize our own limitations. Even if we're very experienced or well trained, there's always more that we could do. In 2009, Melfi identified three primary gaps in our knowledge and approach to zoo animal welfare. These are, number one, a focus on identifying indicators of poor welfare, and an assumption that a lack of poor welfare is equivalent to good welfare. Number two, our understanding of how housing and husbandry affects animal welfare is limited to a few variables, based on our own anthropogenic interpretation. And number three, our knowledge and efforts to improve animal welfare are limited to relatively few taxa. In addition, she suggests that these problems are exacerbated by a reliance on method and tradition to decide how zoo animals should be managed. But what does this mean in the real world? And are these challenges limited just to zoos? I would suggest that all facilities housing captive wild animals could improve the welfare of their animals by considering these points. Let's look at them in a little more detail. So, the first gap we'll talk about is the assumption that a lack of poor welfare is equivalent to good welfare. A framework that is commonly used to assess welfare is The Five Freedoms, which I'm sure that you're familiar with. However, it is important to recognize that this framework was developed in 1965 for intensively rare livestock. I'm sure that those of us who work with wild animals in any capacity would aspire to achieve a higher level of welfare than what this describes. If we look at the five freedoms, we can see that they confer protection or freedom from a variety a negative welfare situations. However, they don't actively support good welfare, but instead, protect against negative welfare or suffering. More recently, David Miller, a welfare scientist working in New Zealand, has developed the five welfare domains. These are an adaptation of the five freedoms that place the emphasis on providing animals with enjoyable and positive experiences. Recognizing that it is our basic duty as caretakers to fulfill the five freedoms and that really, we should be striving for much more. And our animals should be experiencing positive physical and emotional experiences in order to insure good welfare. The second point is that our understanding of how housing and husbandry affects animal welfare is biased by our human perspective. One of the criticisms often level the animal welfarist, is that of anthropomorphism. Yet if we look at any animal husbandry situation; we can see that this is often something we're all guilty of. It is common in zoos in may parts of the world to keep animals that are not native to that region and this can sometimes post significant welfare challenges in terms of thermoregulation. As is the case for polar bears in hot climates. Alternatively, a concern that animals may get too cold in locations that have severe winters may result in animals being locked away for many months because we think it's better for them. These are decisions that we make based on our own perspective. An alternative approach would be to provide animals with a choice. If it's cold outdoors, offer a heated indoor space which the animal may choose to use if it prefers. If it's hot outside, offer a cool indoor climate, but don't force the animal only into one space. We need to understand things from the animals perspective and provide them with choices and opportunities. Changes in weather, daylight, ventilation, or factory stimulation and visual stimulation provide important enrichment for many species. And for species like primates, birds, and reptiles, access to appropriate ultra-violet light is essential. It is important that we don't look at an animal's husbandry from a human perspective, but more from the perspective of what that species needs. [SOUND] Similarly, we have traditionally built hygienic enclosures that meet our requirements in terms of cleaning. But which do not provide for the psychological needs of the animals they're designed to house. In more progressive zoo's, many of these traditional enclosures have been redeveloped or modified as we recognize that animals have very different behavioral priorities to people. Understanding animal behavior is a vital component to providing appropriate housing and husbandry. It is important to remember, that for many species the expression of these behaviors has conferred evolutionary success over generations and so is driven to promote the success and survival of the species. The animal can not always modify it's behavior to suit the captive environment. It is up to us to provide an appropriate environment for the animals we choose to house. A good example is that of elephant housing. Traditionally, we have housed elephants in environments that may not accommodate all of their natural behaviors. Often in groups of unrelated individuals, with relatively fragile social structures that are disrupted by transfers, breeding priorities, and space constraints. All of which challenge the welfare of the individuals. In this video, we can see a female elephant giving birth on a concrete floor. The birthing fluids create a slippery and potentially dangerous environment for her. The kicking behavior shown by this female elephant giving birth on concrete could be dangerous for the calf. And has lead to many female elephants being isolated and sometimes chained during labor, as this behavior was misinterpreted as an act of aggression towards the calf. This behavior simply does not make sense in this human designed environment. However, if we change the environment to consider how elephants have evolved, we can see that this behavior actually does make sense, but only on a natural flooring. The kicking creates a dip in the sand to allow the young elephant to get his legs beneath him, and to stand quickly. This is essential for suckling and in order to allow him to move with the herd. The kicking of sand also absorbs the birthing fluids, reducing odors and minimizing the risk of predation of the newborn elephant calf. This behavior would confer success in a wild environment. It is essential that if we are to deliver good welfare, we consider the impacts of the decisions we make, relating to housing and husbandry from the perspective of the animals themselves. The third gap identified is that our knowledge and efforts to improve zoo animal welfare are limited to relatively few taxer. Research has shown that we are generally more concerned about charismatic, aesthetically pleasing species. But the reality is, that these species are the minority of the species that many zoos house. Fish, reptiles, invertebrates, and birds make up the vast majority of species housed in zoos and by private collectors. In many cases, such species may have additional welfare concerns as they're often caught from the wild and traded over long distances to supply consumers in the zoo, aquarium, and pet trade. The marine aquarium trade, for example, is almost entirely reliant on wild caught specimens. And Traffic, the wildlife monitoring network, records many cases of illegal export of a great variety of wild caught animals. A recently published study by Ashley, et al., described the seizure of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and mammals at a major USA wholesaler. And states that 80% of the animals in the seizure were found to be sick, injured or dead. Such trading to supply captive industries raises a plethora of both welfare and conservation concerns. For some pet owners, their ability to provide good welfare for a pet corn snake or a pet gold fish may actually exceed their ability to provide for the welfare needs of more traditional pets such as dogs or rabbits. And so when we're looking at pet ownership, it is important that we consider the specific needs of a particular species when we consider it's suitability as a pet for a particular lifestyle. Finally, we have the assertion that these problems are exacerbated by a reliance on myth and tradition to decide how zoo animals should be managed. This sounds perhaps a little critical. And this is important to emphasize again that a lot of these challenges are not unique to zoos and aquaria. Exotic pet owners, sanctuaries, safari parks and circuses will also recognize many of these challenges. What is important is that we do recognize these challenges regardless of the industry that we work in and that we collaborate in order to continually improve the welfare of our animals. Scientific research can guide us in making decisions about what is acceptable in how we keep the animals that we manage in captivity. For example, research over many years has demonstrated that fish may feel pain in a way that is similar to mammals, and will avoid painful stimuli. More recent research has shown that crustaceans may also feel pain, and potentially even emotional states such as anxiety. So now that we have a greater understanding of the potential capacity of these species to suffer, should we consider further where we acquire them from and how we house them. The precautionary principle confers responsibility on us to safeguard the welfare of these species that we choose to keep, even if we don't have complete evidence of their capacity to suffer. But in species that are so dissimilar from our own, how can we effectively recognize these welfare problems before they become significant? Research has changed how we house, feed, and care for exotic animals. And it is important that animal caretakers, scientists, and animal welfarists collaborate in order to provide the best possible care for the animals that we manage. For example, whilst we may work nine to five or eight till six, our animals have a 24 hour experience of their enclosure, their enrichment, and their access to food. And so they need opportunities and choices throughout the 24 hour period. We understand now that mate choice can have a significant impact on reproductive rates, neonatal survival, and litter size in some species. And that successful captive breeding must consider the animal's requirements for choice, as well as an appropriate environment and social structure. By recognizing that our perception of what animals need is biased by our human agenda and by what we've always done, we can challenge these biases and traditions and focus instead on what the animal needs.