Ethics and Animal Welfare Evaluations in South East Asian Zoos

Agoramoorthy, Govindasamy and Bernard Harrison. Ethics and Animal Welfare Evaluations in South East Asian Zoos: A Case Study of Thailand. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, Vol 5, No. 1, 2002.


The researchers conducted an animal welfare study on 3 South East Asian zoos all of which were in Thailand. The study procedure consisted of collecting data on animal welfare using questionnaires and data forms. There were a total of 4 representatives who took participated in the collection of the data from outside the zoos. Each zoo also collected data on their own institution. The survey questions were organized into seven broad categories including: freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from thermal and physical discomfort, and freedom from pain, disease, and injury. Evaluators then rated each category from 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “best” and 5 meaning “worst.” They checked exhibits for animal welfare issues, and they also reviewed records on zoo management, nutrition veterinary care, research, and hygiene among many other important issues. The participants from the zoos tended to rate their own zoos more highly on animal welfare than the external reviewers did. All three zoos obtained acceptable mean scores, but the Khao Kheow Open Zoo scored the highest on animal welfare measures. The first zoo, the Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo, had problems revolving around enclosure sizes being too small, not enough enrichment devices, underfeeding, and hygiene issues. The second zoo, the Khao Kheow Open Zoo, had issues revolving around cage size, not enough enrichment devices, and a failure to address sick animals. The final zoo, the Dusit Zoo, had hygiene issues, a lack of enrichment and sunlight, and no water in certain exhibits.

Main Points, Potential Applications, and Future Research:

  • All of the zoos had an acceptable average standards, but there was clear room for improvement in every institution.
  • The zoos responded willingly and quickly to the issues.
  • The evaluation form could be used by the South East Asian Zoo Association for inspections to further improve animal welfare

Summary by Samantha Wolford

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