Improving captive animal welfare - Animals Asia facilitates advanced veterinary learning

27 October 2012

Senior vets from zoos across China gathered at Beijing Zoo for a seminar on advanced specialist veterinary techniques to improve animal welfare. The seminar, held on 17-19 September 2012, saw an elite group of 30 of the best of China’s zoo vets coming together to improve their knowledge and the standard of veterinary care they can offer at their zoos.

The first International China Veterinary Symposium was arranged by the China Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG) in partnership with Beijing Zoo. The CAZG is the government authority responsible for regulating zoos in China.

The itinerary for the event, with expert guest speakers, was provided by Animals Asia and the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, part of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

The symposium included case studies, video, practical examples and discussion groups, in addition to theory. Topics covered included:

preventative medicine
animal welfare
behaviour and mental health
pain recognition and management
safe and effective avian anaesthesia
exotic animal ophthalmology
amphibian and reptile diseases
necropsy techniques

There was also an interactive zoo animal pathology workshop, and discussion of examples using cases submitted by zoos.

In addition to providing veterinarians with the practical skills they need to improve animal health and disease control at their zoos, the workshop continuously emphasised the importance of improving animal welfare in zoos.


David Neale, Animal Welfare Director, Animals Asia commented: “While the ethics of managing wild animals in captivity are often complex and sensitive, it is important to recognise the reality that many wild animals are permanently housed in zoological collections and the zoo veterinary community has a responsibility to manage their health and welfare effectively.”

The expert speakers included:

Monica Bando, Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Animals Asia
Heather Bacon, Veterinary Welfare Education and Outreach Manager, Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education
Claudia Hartley, Senior Clinician in veterinary ophthalmology, Animal Health Trust
Mark Stidworthy, Veterinary Pathologist, International Zoo Veterinary Group
Romain Pizzi, special lecturer in zoo and wildlife medicine and Veterinary Surgeon, Edinburgh zoo

All of the speakers donated their time and expertise in order to promote international exchange of expertise and ideas with regard to zoo animal health and welfare.

Speaking at the event, Heather Bacon welcomed the opportunity to promote enhanced animal welfare and veterinary care for zoological animals. She commented: “The very existence of zoos can be a controversial topic, but by working together to promote animal welfare in a constructive and practical forum, we can improve the lives of many animals who realistically, will be permanently housed in zoo collections for the foreseeable future.”