AZA Animal Care Manuals (ACMs) provide a compilation of animal care and management knowledge that has been gained from recognized species experts, including AZA Taxon Advisory Groups (TAGs), Species Survival Plan® Programs (SSPs), biologists, veterinarians, nutritionists, reproduction physiologists, behaviorists and researchers. This varied expertise can be used to enhance animal care and welfare, which includes the physical, psychological, and emotional health of our animals. These manuals are based on the current science, practice, and technology of animal management to maximize capacity for excellence in animal care and welfare. Incorporating the information from these manuals into animal management practices at zoos and aquariums maximizes excellence in animal care and welfare, and ensures institutions are maintaining best practices.
ACMs are considered works in progress, since practices continue to evolve through advances in scientific knowledge. The use of information within the manuals should be in accordance with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations concerning the care of animals. The recommendations are not exclusive management approaches, diets, medical treatments, or procedures, and may require adaptation to the specific needs of individual animals and particular circumstances in each institution. Commercial entities and media identified are not necessarily endorsed by AZA. The statements presented throughout the body of the manual do not represent standards of care unless specifically identified as such in clearly marked sidebar boxes.
AZA accredited institutions are required to have copies of, and ensure that all animal care staff has access to, the completed ACMs for species within their collection (AZA Accreditation Standard 1.2.1). Completed Animal Care Manuals include:
The development of each ACM is coordinated by the AZA Animal Welfare Committee and managed by AZA's Conservation & Science Department. A complete ACM Template is available to all AZA members. The template is divided into chapters, each of which focuses on a different animal care or management topic.
Each chapter contains specific sections with general introductory information and corresponding AZA Accreditation Standards identified. Each section lists bulleted points, developed with input from AZA Committees, Scientific Advisory Groups, and the Animal Program's Population Management and Reproductive Management Centers, that are addressed by the authors.
The developmental processes used to compose each ACM follows a specific sequence that includes several review procedures (internal and external) before the AZA Conservation & Science Department reviews it and ultimately approves publication. There are six primary steps needed to complete the publication process: