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Zoos, aquaria, sanctuaries and animal parks

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Ratification Date: 01 Jan 2010

Policy

Zoos, aquaria, sanctuaries and animal parks must be established, maintained and monitored under relevant state or territory legislation. Animal welfare and ethics committees should be established to oversee the welfare of the animals being kept in such facilities to ensure openness and transparency.

Background

These facilities can play a significant role in today’s society by providing services addressing the following missions:

  • conservation of threatened species, involving both in situ and ex situ breeding and other programs, and including the re-introduction of individual animals into rehabilitated habitats when appropriate
  • research programs that support conservation activities andlink to other research institutions
  • formal education at all levels from school children to postgraduate students, and informal education to develop an interest by the broader community in the animal kingdom and their interaction with the environment.

It is recognised that, in fulfilling these functions, zoos, aquaria, sanctuaries and animal parks also provide recreational and educational activities for the visiting public.

Ongoing assessment and improvement of animal housing, feeding and welfare based on research into the behaviour, nutrition and disease control of wildlife in human care is strongly supported. Animal welfare incorporates both physical and mental wellbeing.

Zoos can play an important role in the conservation of endangered species through captive breeding (noteworthy examples include the Corroboree frog and Regent honeyeater in NSW and the Tasmanian devil) and in research into ecosystem health, animal health, husbandry and management. Zoos actively provide a range of formal and informal educational activities about animals and their environments that support the development of positive attitudes towards animals.

Guidelines

The peak body at the national level is the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA), which conducts a stringent accreditation process for its members. Collection planning is done under the auspices of the Australasian Species Management Plan (ASMP) to maximise the cooperative management of captive populations for genetic and demographic purposes.

Zoos must strive to provide natural, stimulating environments, secure for both animals and the public. Husbandry techniques should be consistent with the animals’ natural behaviours and welfare needs. Veterinarians who have experience in the different species kept in zoos, aquaria, sanctuaries and animal parks must be engaged by these facilities.

The New South Wales Exhibited Animals Protection Act 1986 and subordinate legislation, provide a guide to the facilities necessary for the keeping of non-domesticated animals and is the minimum standard expected for zoo animal housing.

References

Queensland - Animal Care and Protection Act 2001

Northern Territory - Animal Welfare Act

Australian Capital Territory - Animal Welfare Act 1992

Western Australia - Animal Welfare Act 2002

New South Wales - Exhibited Animals Protection Act 1986 (select E under Acts in Force)

South Australia - Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1985

Victoria - Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986

Tasmania – Animal Welfare Act 1993

Date of ratification by AVA Board: January 2010