From the tiniest invertebrates to the tallest land mammals, every animal deserves to feel safe, happy and healthy.
Perth Zoo is home to 1500 animals, and each have their own species-specific needs. We are proud to be a Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) accredited zoo, which means we have a progresive, science-based approach to animal welfare.
Good welfare looks very different from animal to animal, and that’s why we follow the Five Domains of Animal Welfare and even have our very own welfare expert!
Perth Zoo Animal Behaviour and Welfare Specialist, Emily Polla, said: “The Five Domains of Animal Welfare can be applied to any animal, from tiny Western Swamp Tortoises all the way up to Southern White Rhinos.
"This framework for animal welfare allows us to identify what each species here at Perth Zoo needs to thrive.
“But good welfare practices certainly aren’t one-size-fits-all and will look very different from animal to animal – what’s good for an African Lion certainly wouldn’t work for an archerfish!
“When examining welfare, we look at an animal’s environment, diet, health, and social structure, as well as how their lives might look in the wild.
We aim to provide opportunities for them to use their natural behaviours and instincts.”
To keep ourselves accountable, Emily also leads our internal Animal Behaviour and Welfare Team, which is made up of various members of staff from across the Zoo.
This team is tasked with examining our current practices and searching for ways to consistently improve, share knowledge between teams and consider holistic animal welfare measures.
All of this activity is driven by the Five Domains of Animal Welfare. And this matrix can even be applied to your pets at home!
The Five Domains:
- Environment: An animal’s habitat – including the substrate, size and vegetation – should provide plenty of opportunities within the space for the animal to be itself!
- Behaviour: An animal should have the opportunity to take part in mentally stimulating activities or interact with other animals in a suitable social structure, with solitary species housed in a space of their own.
- Nutrition: an animal should be provided with a diet that is nutritionally balanced based on scientific principles.
- Health: an animal should be given a high standard of health care to keep them physically healthy.
- Positive Mental State: if the first four domains are being met, the animal should be experiencing a positive mental state.