New global program will protect animals in zoos and aquariums

Leading zoos/aquariums from United States, Canada, Mexico and Asia stepping forward

Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association

American Humane Association President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert and one of her ‘friends.’

The American Humane Association, the first national humane organization in the United States, and the first to create historic protections for animals on farms and ranches, film and television, and other environments where animals live in human care, announced on Tuesday the launch of a global program dedicated to helping ensure the welfare and humane treatment of the remarkable, endangered and disappearing animals living in the world’s zoos and aquariums.

Urgent need cited to preserve ‘vital web of life’ on earth

In the face of what scientists are calling a “Sixth Extinction” with species disappearing at a rate 8-100 times higher than expected since 1900, zoos and aquariums are playing an outsized role in preserving the vital web of life on Earth. Serving as arks of hope for endangered animals and powerful ambassadors for conservation, these institutions are drawing more visitors each year than all sporting events combined. And as people become increasingly aware of and invested in the fate of the world’s creatures, more and more are rightly demanding that the millions of creatures who live in zoos, aquariums and conservation centers be afforded good treatment and welfare.

To help achieve this, American Humane Association, which has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in the protection of animals over the past 140 years, has developed the first-ever independent, scientific and evidence-based third-party humane certification program focusing solely on the well-being of the animals living in these institutions.

Americn Humane Association logo

Comprehensive standards

The program’s comprehensive standards were created by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee made up of the most well-respected, iconic names in animal welfare, animal ethics, and the conservation community, and cover everything from good health to good housing, good feeding, good management, appropriate behaviors, including the display of natural behaviors at the individual and group levels.

Also covered are the lack of abnormal behaviors at the individual and group levels, social interactions between animals and the ability to self-separate, positive, healthy and humane interactions between animals and handlers, physiology, activity levels, use of space, disease and mortality, meeting of federal and state regulations, thermo regulation, lighting/shade needs, environmental quality issues, staff knowledge and training, veterinary, operational procedures, animal husbandry procedures, environmental enrichments, choices and options for animals, safety measures, nutritional needs, food quality, food safety, air quality, water quality, appropriate sound levels for animal life, consideration of diurnal/seasonal patterns, appropriate veterinary/health plans, plans to recognize adverse medical trends, treatment protocols/management plans for emergency medical situations (injuries, escapes, etc.), training of staff interacting with animals, use of positive reinforcement in any animal husbandry/training programs, transparency and openness of daily operations and animal care, and much more.

Adding to the rigor of the program, the implementation of the required standards is verified by independent auditors.

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