Animal Welfare Committee

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Animal Welfare Committee

Providing for good animal welfare encompasses both ethical and scientific responsibilities. AZA-accredited institutions have an ethical responsibility to ensure the well-being of the animals in their care. In addition, AZA-accredited institutions have a scientific responsibility to gain a greater understanding of the well-being of the animals in their care by advancing animal welfare science.

Animal Welfare Committee's Definition of Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare refers to an animal’s collective physical, mental, and emotional states over a period of time, and is measured on a continuum from good to poor.

Explanation: An animal typically experiences good welfare when healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to develop and express species-typical relationships, behaviors, and cognitive abilities, and not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, or distress. Because physical, mental, and emotional states may be dependent on one another and can vary from day to day, it is important to consider these states in combination with one another over time to provide an assessment of an animal’s overall welfare status.

Animal Welfare Committee's Mission Statement

The AZA Animal Welfare committee promotes good welfare for animals in AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, by assisting member institutions in identifying and applying best practices in animal welfare and through promoting advances in animal welfare science.

The Animal Welfare Committee will achieve its mission by:

  • Promoting a common understanding of animal welfare in the zoo and aquarium community.Assisting zoos and aquariums in identifying and applying best practices in animal welfare.
  • Encouraging the development of research projects and assessment tools to advance and monitor animal welfare.
  • Educating and engaging AZA zoos and aquariums in applying assessment tools.
  • Understanding and influencing public perception about animal welfare in AZA zoos and aquariums.


Lance Miller, Ph.D., CZS / Brookfield Zoo 


Beth Stark Posta, Toledo Zoo 


Stephanie Allard, Ph.D., Detroit Zoo

Cheri Asa, Ph.D., Saint Louis Zoo

Brian Aucone, Denver Zoo

David Bocian, San Francisco Zoo

Nancy Hawkes, Ph.D.,Woodland Park Zoo

Amanda Ista, Milwaukee County Zoo, AAZK

Steve Martin, Steve Martin's Natural Encounters

Vikki McCloskey, Steinhart Aquarium

Jim Nemet, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Julie Scardina, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens

Andrew Schleis, Dolphin Island

Malia Somerville, Buffalo Zoo

Scott Terrell, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Ric Urban, Newport Aquarium

Greg Vicino, San Diego Zoo

Douglas Whiteside, D.V.M., Calgary Zoo


Erika Bauer, Ph.D., Smithsonian National Zoo

Linda Criss, Akron Zoo

Otto Fad, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Greg Geise, Binder Park Zoo, President Emeritus

Sara Hallager, Smithsonian National Zoo

Jill Mellen Ph.D., Disney's Animal Kingdom

Donald Moore III, Ph.D., Smithsonian National Zoo

David Powell, Ph.D., Bronx Zoo

Gary Priest, San Diego Zoo Global

Suzi Rapp, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

David Shepherdson, Ph.D., Oregon Zoo 

Greg Tarry, CAZA

Nadja Wielebnowski, Ph.D., Oregon Zoo

PR Adviser:

Ellen Averill, Tulsa Zoo

Board Liaison:

Chris Kuhar, Ph.D., Cleveland Metroparks Zoo 

AZA Staff Liaison:

Candice Dorsey, Ph.D.