American Humane Association has announced the launch of a global program dedicated to helping ensure the welfare and humane treatment of the remarkable, endangered and disappearing animals living in the world’s zoos and aquariums.
In the face of what scientists are calling a “Sixth Extinction” with species disappearing at a rate 8-100 times higher than expected since 1900, zoos and aquariums are playing an outsized role in preserving the vital web of life on Earth.
Serving as arks of hope for endangered animals and powerful ambassadors for conservation, these institutions are drawing more visitors each year than all sporting events combined. And as people become increasingly aware of and invested in the fate of the world’s creatures, more and more are rightly demanding that the millions of creatures who live in zoos, aquariums and conservation centers be afforded good treatment and welfare.
To help achieve this, American Humane Association has developed the first-ever independent, scientific and evidence-based third-party humane certification program focusing solely on the well-being of the animals living in these institutions.
The program’s comprehensive standards were created by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee made up of the most well-respected, iconic names in animal welfare, animal ethics, and the conservation community. Adding to the rigor of the program, the implementation of the required standards is verified by independent auditors.
With only 2.3 percent of zoos and aquariums worldwide being accredited and none being certified solely for animal welfare, there is a need for the public to know which ones are excelling and which are not. Major institutions from around the globe are already stepping forward to be audited, including well-known names from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia.
“We believe all animals – those in our homes, those on our farms and ranches, and those being preserved and cared for in our zoos, aquariums, and conservation parks – are entitled to humane treatment,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association.
“This new Humane Conservation program will serve to help ensure the welfare of millions of animals and help the public to distinguish those institutions that are doing a good job from those that are not and either need to elevate the quality of their programs or shut their doors.”
Four major institutions have already distinguished themselves in the rollout of the Humane Conservation program’s pilot phase, garnering the “Humane Certified” seal of approval: Shedd Aquarium in Chicago; Brookfield Zoo in Chicago; Delphinus in Mexico; and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre in Canada.
“We applaud these institutions for the excellent work for and stewardship of the magnificent animals in their care,” said Dr. Kwane Stewart, chief veterinary officer for the American Humane Association Humane Conservation program.
“These world-class zoos and aquariums stepped forward voluntarily to undergo our comprehensive, science-based auditing and have served as leaders in the field, demonstrating to the public their commitment to providing a high degree of welfare to the animals with whom they work. Gaining the ‘Humane Certified’ seal is an important validation of their efforts by a program that has been endorsed by many of the world’s leading animal welfare scientists, veterinarians, animal advocates, and ethicists.”