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Browsing by Subject "welfare assessment"

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  • Mirko, Pomatti (2023)
    Animal welfare is a multifaceted concept that encompasses the overall well-being of animals, considering their physical and psychological health, behaviour, social interactions, and ability to engage in species-specific behaviours. Though there isn't a single universally accepted definition, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) provides a widely recognized definition. According to the OIE, animal welfare refers to how well an animal copes with its living conditions. An animal is considered to have good welfare if it is healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour, and not suffering from pain, fear, or distress. In my thesis, the main objective is to identify knowledge gaps in recognizing factors that influence welfare among animal caretakers and to gather essential information that can serve as a foundation for future efforts to improve animal welfare in Korkeasaari Zoo. The project was conducted in collaboration with the zoo and involved studying and assessing the welfare of four different species. The assessments were based on scientific knowledge obtained through extensive literature research. The findings were then compared and analyzed by using a general linear model (GLM) with the zookeepers' own assessments. The results revealed that, overall, zookeepers tended to assess animal welfare more positively than the knowledge-based evaluation, although the extent of this difference varied among species. Notably, the results brought to light that certain species, especially the Asiatic lion, have specific welfare requirements that might not be fully recognized by the keepers. This implies there are opportunities for enhancing animal welfare in these cases. Furthermore, assessments varied depending on the type of question posed, with a significant observation being that nutritional requirements consistently received the highest evaluation across all species, regardless of the evaluator. This underscores the heightened attention that zookeepers pay to the nutritional well-being of the animals. This likely stems from the availability of well-documented nutritional information, in contrast to other facets of welfare in the studied species that might still be less comprehensively understood. My research is practical in nature, focusing on four specific species within one zoo. It may not primarily contribute to theoretical advancements but rather offer practical insights and applications. This marks just the starting point and indicates the need for further exploration and advancement. Shedding light on the various factors that shape animal welfare is pivotal for refining the operational protocols within the zoo setting. Such insights can pave the way for constructive measures that contribute to the betterment of the animals' well-being within the zoo environment. For instance, the notable difference in the evaluation of Asiatic lions, where the zookeepers scored them higher than the literature-based assessment, emphasizes the importance of incorporating scientific knowledge into zoo management practices. By bridging this gap and aligning assessments with well-established scientific data, we can make substantial strides in improving animal welfare in Zoos.