Kate on Conservation

Animal emotions film raises awareness of zoo animals’ welfare issues

How do you connect young people with animal emotions and welfare?

Encouraging the general public, especially youngsters, to see the benefit of ensuring all animals held in captivity receive good care and welfare is key to holding zoos and safari parks accountable in their standards of care – today and for years to come. 

Only a small percentage of the more than 10,000 zoos and aquariums estimated to exist globally, fall under country-wide animal welfare legislation, with a significant number falling outside of guiding principles from a zoo association. Therefore, poor animal welfare is still widely observed in zoos around the world.

Very conservative estimates indicate the number of animals held in zoos worldwide exceeds 2.5 million1.

Zoo animal welfare charity Wild Welfare believes that every zoo’s responsibility is to ensure their animals live lives worth living and has produced the short film to raise awareness of some of the current welfare issues facing zoo animals globally.

Reaching out on behalf of captive animals

Earlier this year, UK-based Wild Welfare, aimed to tackle that challenge by releasing a film about animal emotions, which delivers simple messaging about good animal welfare and the things that wild animals held in captivity need, in order to be happy and healthy.

Following on from my previous post about the different way that big cats live in captivity, I was intrigued to watch Imagine If, the animated film which asks viewers to imagine they are a zoo animal, and what they might feel.

The film differentiates between so-called ‘good zoos’, where animal welfare is prioritised, and zoos where animals do not exhibit their normal behaviours and as a result their welfare is compromised and they can suffer. You can discover my personal views on zoos in general here.

Watch Imagine If for yourself

Imagine If highlights the different emotions animals can feel, just like humans, such as contentment and joy.

The film demonstrates the connection between these emotions and an animal’s welfare and highlights how inadequate care in zoos can result in feelings such as loneliness or stress and consequently animal suffering.

Wild Welfare’s director, Georgina Groves, said: “It’s vital to help people understand the common ground they share with wild animals, in the way they think, feel and experience. 

“If people understand that wild animals have many of the same emotional needs as they do, we hope they’ll be motivated to help us tackle the suffering many animals in captivity around the world are facing.”

 Find out more at https://wildwelfare.org/

  1. A study in PLOS ONE processed data from the International Species Information System (ISIS) (now called Species 360). The Species 360 network is made up of more than 800 zoos and aquariums and shares information about ∼2.5 million individuals. With estimates made by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), putting the number of zoo and aquarium facilities worldwide at more than 10,000, this 2.5 million figure is likely to be a very conservative estimate of the total number of wild animals housed in zoos around the world.
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