Adaptation of the animal welfare assessment grid (AWAG) for monitoring animal welfare in zoological collections

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Abstract

Animal welfare monitoring is an essential part of zoo management and a legal requirement in many countries. Historically, a variety of welfare audits have been proposed to assist zoo managers. Unfortunately, there are a number of issues with these assessments, including lack of species information, validated tests and the overall complexity of these audits which make them difficult to implement in practice. The animal welfare assessment grid (AWAG) has previously been proposed as an animal welfare monitoring tool for animals used in research programmes. This computer-based system was successfully adapted for use in a zoo setting with two taxonomic groups: primates and birds. This tool is simple to use and provides continuous monitoring based on cumulative lifetime assessment. It is suggested as an alternative, practical method for welfare monitoring in zoos.

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