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WAZA launches updated Animal-Visitor Interaction Guidelines

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The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, has updated its Animal-Visitor Interaction Guidelines.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is pleased to announce the updated version of its Animal-Visitor Interaction Guidelines. These are based on scientific recommendations from the World Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare Strategy. The guidance aims to promote animal-visitor interactions that put animal welfare first.

Animal-Visitor Interaction Guidelines

The newly-released guidelines look at five key elements that must be taken into consideration when interactions between animals and visitors take place. These are:

1. Monitor and assess animal welfare
2. Suitability of the animals for interactions
3. Staff expertise
4. Messaging
5. Safety

The guidance features recommendations for each element.

Updated guidance

This set of guidelines was first published in 2016 and has now been updated. The WAZA Ethics and Animal Welfare Committee, led by Committee Chair, Karen Fifield, worked with representatives of the different regions to update the guidance. The Committee worked to conduct a representative and include review, taking into account the views of WAZA members across the globe.

The guidance has also been approved by the WAZA Council, which includes representation from four regional associations. The result is a global agreement from the most progressive zoos and aquariums on how animals and visitors should interact.

The new WAZA Animal-Visitor Interaction Guidelines should be used alongside existing guidelines, standards, and best practices documents developed by the 24 WAZA-recognised national and regional associations of zoos and aquariums.

A WAZA statement reads: “As new scientific evidence is made available, we continuously re-think how animal-visitors interactions need to take place to nurture positive animal welfare and promote a unique connection that encourages people to care for wildlife. We encourage you to make use of these guidelines, and we hope you will find them useful.”

The guidelines can be downloaded in English or Spanish here, and WAZA is also working to make them available in more languages.

WAZA also recently released a statement on Netflix’s Tiger King documentary.

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charlotte coates

Charlotte Coates

Charlotte Coates is Features Editor at Blooloop. She is from Brighton, UK and previously worked as a librarian. She has a strong interest in arts, culture and information and graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in English Literature. Charlotte can usually be found either with her head in a book or planning her next travel adventure.

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