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
Beth Posta, Toledo Zoo & Aquarium

Vice-Chair
Sharon Joseph, Birmingham Zoo

Members
Ellen Averill, Tulsa Zoo
Bonnie Baird, Woodland Park Zoo
Scott Barton, Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Katherine Cronin, Lincoln Park Zoo
Kaylyn Devine, Lehigh Valley Zoo
Louis DiVincenti, Seneca Park Zoo
Grace Fuller, Detroit Zoo
Jesse Gilbert, Texas State Aquarium
Betsy Herrelko, Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Robert Lessnau, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Colleen McCann, Bronx Zoo
Vikki McCloskey, Steinhart Aquarium
Allen McDowell, North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
James Nemet, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Beth Posta, Toledo Zoo & Aquarium
Malia Somerville, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Wouter Stellaard, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Scott Terrell, The Seas
Ric Urban, Mississippi Aquarium
Greg Vicino, San Diego Zoo
Nadja Wielebnowski, Ph.D., Oregon Zoo

Advisors
Erika Bauer, Ph.D., Smithsonian National Zoo
Linda Criss, Akron Zoo
Sara Hallager, Smithsonian National Zoo
Jill Mellen Ph.D.
Lance Miller, Ph.D., Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo
Greg Tarry, CAZA

Committee Liaison
Jillian Braun, Lincoln Park Zoo, Liaison from Public Relations Committee

Board Liaison
Lisa New, Zoo Knoxville

AZA Staff Liaison
Candice Dorsey, Ph.D.


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