Improving Welfare of Captive Wildlife in China: Promoting Integrated Veterinary and Behavioral Management
Monica K. H. Bando1, BS, MS, BVSc; David Neale1; Heather J. Bacon1,2, BSc (Hons), BVSc, CertZooMed, MRCVS; Nicola Field1, BSc (Hons), MSc
1Animals Asia Foundation, China Bear Rescue Centre, Longqiao, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, People’s Republic of China; 2Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian
Animals Asia Foundation is an international animal welfare organization committed to ending bear bile farming and addressing numerous animal welfare issues. Since 2000, Animals Asia has rescued 381 bears from bear bile farms, providing extensive veterinary care and behavioral management at our two Moon Bear Rescue Centres in China and Vietnam. While welfare of captive wildlife remains an ongoing development worldwide, there exist unique challenges in China. Animals Asia has initiated comprehensive investigations and assessments of zoological facilities, safari parks, and veterinary hospitals throughout China. Through participation in local veterinary and zoo conferences and the development of positive collaborative relationships with local veterinary associations and the China Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG), Animals Asia has gained valuable insight into the current standards of veterinary training and captive animal facilities in China. Challenges include the lack of both animal welfare legislation and standardized animal management and veterinary training. Animals Asia hosted two workshops at our Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Sichuan Province, inviting animal caretakers, managers and zoo veterinarians from zoological parks across China, promoting an integrated approach to management of captive wildlife by using our rescue centre as a model. Emphasis was placed on concepts of animal welfare, preventative medicine and the importance of minimizing stress in captivity including the importance of environmental enrichment and the need to integrate veterinary care and behavioral management. The successes of such workshops highlight the willingness of the CAZG to collaborate and accept constructive feedback and advice to improve facilities and care of captive wildlife in China. In addition, notable progress was made in October 2010 when the CAZG backed a directive by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development which included a ban on animal performances in zoos (Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the Peoples’ Republic of China. 2010. The guidance on further strengthening the regulation of zoos. No.  172. www.mohurd.gov.cn; www.animalsasia.org/index.php?UID=GRQ69AW36ZC). In addition, a draft of an animal protection law has been backed by Chinese lawyers (Prevention of cruelty to animals law of the PRC [Experts’ Draft Proposal] www.china.com.cn/news/law/2010-03/17/content_19623441.htm; www.animalsasia.org/index.php?UID=YX79ZJEGRF7) and in 2011, delegates from the CAZG were invited to the UK by Animals Asia to participate in international training. Currently draft zoo management guidelines are being developed by the CAZG, addressing all aspects of animal management including veterinary care and animal management training. Animals Asia remains hopeful that with continued collaborations, positive progress will lead to further improvements in the integrated veterinary and behavioral care of captive wildlife in China.