Nonhuman Zoo Animal Welfare: A Systematic Guide to Troubleshooting Problems

Melfi, Vicky A. Nonhuman Zoo Animal Welfare: A Systematic Guide to Troubleshooting Problems. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, Vol. 16, No. 4, 2013.


This paper was delivered at the Detroit Zoological Society’s conference “From Good Care to Great Welfare: Advancing Zoo Animal Welfare Science and Policy,” August 6-7, 2011.

In this paper, Melfi argues that all zoo researchers bring biases to their studies depending upon their backgrounds. Veterinarians explore health issues, caretakers consider housing and husbandry, and zoo researchers often perform endocrinology or ethological studies. To combat this problem she proposes a systematic approach to study zoo animal welfare that includes both endogenous and exogenous factors. She recommends extending the current variables included in many zoo studies to include environmental factors, individual differences, nutrition, and human-animal interactions. This approach should create more thorough studies that highlight animal welfare problems.

Main Points and Future Research:

  • Zoo animal welfare studies done by researchers from one background can bias study findings.
  • Future research might include a quantitative meta-analysis of current studies to see the strengths and weaknesses of the research.


Summary by Samantha Wolford


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