A Queenstown wildlife park has become the first in New Zealand to be recognised under the newest iteration of a progressive program for animal welfare at zoos and aquariums.
The Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA) announced that animal welfare accreditation has been granted to Kiwi Birdlife Park under the Accreditation 2020 Program.
“Kiwi Birdlife Park is honoured to receive the positive welfare accreditation, we found the whole accreditation process to be a great experience,” stated Paul Kavanagh, Kiwi Birdlife Park Manager.
“Our trained wildlife keepers are always looking for ways to ensure the park continually improves and this was the perfect opportunity to question our practices and review every aspect of the park. We want to make sure that our animals don’t just have sufficient nutrition and space but that we are going above and beyond to ensure their welfare is positive.”
ZAA launched the new version of the program this year, with all ZAA member zoos and aquariums set to be assessed under this latest iteration.
“We have a progressive, science-based approach to animal welfare,” said Nicola Craddock, Executive Director of ZAA. “Using the internationally-recognised Five Domains Model, ZAA grants accreditation to zoos and aquariums that have demonstrated their commitment to animal welfare.”
“This new round is one of the most ambitious welfare accreditation programs of any zoo and aquarium association in the world because it looks at welfare from the animal’s perspective.”
The ZAA Accreditation Program can help the public choose to visit zoos or aquariums that think deeply about the welfare of the animals in their care and who strive for continuous improvement.
The Program is based on contemporary animal welfare science and has been developed in cooperation with leading animal welfare scientist Professor David Mellor, former Foundation Director of the Animal Welfare and Bioethics Centre (Massey University, NZ).
“The enthusiastic adoption of the Five Domains Model by the zoo and aquarium community is no surprise,” said Professor Mellor.
“The Model provides a vehicle for staff to express their sincere commitment to the highest levels of care that can be achieved within current circumstances and to plan imaginative improvements where they may be required.”
For Kiwi Birdlife, the wellbeing of the animals in their care is essential and underpins their core purpose of conserving their counterparts in the wild.
“Every animal we have, is here as part of a managed conservation programme, including rehabilitation and breed for release programmes,” said Jemima Bliss, Marketer at Kiwi Birdlife Park.
“For instance, right now we’re preparing to release a kea who has made a full recovery at our park after receiving help from Dunedin Wildlife Hospital due to brain trauma. The Kea Conservation Trust will be releasing him in to the Fiordland and monitoring his progress back in the wild. This will help provide the Department of Conservation (DOC) with valuable data for conservation. Thanks to all the amazing work from the involved parties.”
“It’s hard not to be excited about the work the wildlife team here do. You can’t help but absorb their contagious passion towards the lives of the animals at the park. It’s always heart-warming when visitors return to reception bursting to share their experience. The team should be proud to know this has been officially recognised by an external organisation like ZAA.”
People planning to visit zoos and aquariums in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and South Pacific Islands should visit the ZAA website for a full list of accredited organisations.
As a peak body, the Zoo and Aquarium Association represents the collective voice of the zoos, aquariums, sanctuaries and wildlife parks across Australasia that operate to the highest standards.