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

We promote excellent welfare for animals in AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums by assisting member facilities 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 increasing the accuracy of public perception about animal welfare in AZA zoos and aquariums.

Chair
Sharon Joseph, Birmingham Zoo

Vice-Chairs
Katherine Cronin, Lincoln Park Zoo
Elizabeth (Betsy) Herrelko, Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Members
Bonnie Baird, Woodland Park Zoo
Katherine Cronin, Lincoln Park Zoo
Kaylyn Devine, Lehigh Valley Zoo
Louis DiVincenti
Grace Fuller, Detroit Zoo
Marieke Gartner, Zoo Atlanta
Jesse Gilbert, Texas State Aquarium
Elizabeth (Betsy) Herrelko, Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Sharon Joseph, Birmingham Zoo
Robert Lessnau, Audubon Nature Institute
Colleen McCann, Bronx Zoo
Allen McDowell, North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
Molly McGuire, Zoo Miami
Darren Minier, Oakland Zoo/Consv Society of California
Christine Molter, Houston Zoo
Joseph Soltis, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Malia Somerville, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Timothy Van Loan, ABQ BioPark
Katie Vyas, Denver Zoo
Nadja Wielebnowski, Oregon Zoo

Advisors
Stephanie Allard, National Aquarium
Erika Bauer, Ph.D., Smithsonian National Zoo
Linda Criss, Akron Zoo
Sara Hallager, Smithsonian National Zoo
Lance Miller, Ph.D., Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo

Board Liaison
Lisa New, Zoo Knoxville

Committee Liaison
Jillian Braun, Lincoln Park Zoo
Greg Tarry, CAZA

AZA Staff Liaison
Candice Dorsey, Ph.D.

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