- EBEA -
A Commitment to Animal welfare

The framework for all professionals mobilized daily for the welfare of their animals

453

Animals monitored

153

Keepers engaged

Among the most ambitious welfare frameworks

More than a label
The commitment of a whole team

Animal caretakers, veterinarians, directors... everyone has an essential role in ensuring the welfare of the animals! What is the EBEA framework?

  • A commitment of the entire animal team: to offer the best possible living conditions to the animals, through the development of enclosures design, food, daily care, enrichment, veterinary care, etc.
  • Collaboration between zoo staff and external scientists specialized in animal welfare to enable regular monitoring.

The framework

Our approach to animal welfare monitoring and evaluation stands out for its holistic nature, which allows for a gradual and lasting improvement in animal welfare. Our approach is based on 6 main founding principles:

  • A commitment of the ENTIRE animal team
  • Quarterly animal assessment
  • A scientific approach
  • Taking into account the specificities of each species
  • Ongoing user training
  • Support from animal behavior and welfare specialists

All year round, and by the whole team
thanks to a mobile app

Given the constraints encountered on the field, a mobile application has been developed specifically to facilitate the implementation of animal welfare assessments and make its monitoring more efficient. Consequently, users can devote more time to actions that directly benefit the animals (creation of enrichments, new structures, training sessions, etc.)

A scientific approach

The protocol used in the EBEA approach is based on the Welfare Quality® project, a recognized scientific model for assessing welfare in farm animals, and transposed here to wildlife species. Resources and content are updated with scientific and institutional publications.

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Today, scientific knowledge has evolved, and we know that many species feel emotions, have very specific and strong bonds with their congeners and have cognitive abilities that we previously underestimated. In captivity, animals depend on humans; therefore, we have an ethical responsibility to provide a living environment that allows each species to meet its specific needs. We must ensure that we give the animals in our care all the conditions necessary for their welfare. Furthermore, welfare is a state that fluctuates over time, and the needs of animals can change over time (sexual maturity, old animal, change within the group, etc.). It is, therefore, necessary to regularly ensure that the animal's living conditions correspond to their needs and thus carry out regular monitoring and evaluations of welfare.

While good physical health is essential to an animal's welfare, it is not sufficient. Indeed, welfare depends on the animal's subjective experiences (emotions) and its perception of its environment. Since it is a mental state and cannot be directly measured, the assessment of animal welfare therefore uses a series of indicators based on the physical and social environment (enclosures, facilities , social group, etc.) as well as the animal itself (their behavior, state of health, etc.). Finally, animal welfare assessment uses a comparative approach based on reference values. It is essential to know what is "normal" biologically for a species or an individual to assess its state of welfare. Therefore, it is necessary to collect information from the literature on the species' biology (physiological standards, time budget, etc.) and to carry out long-term monitoring to identify any possible degradation or improvement of the species state of animal welfare.

A welfare assessment can be based on questionnaires (completed by the animal team or neutral observers) and/or direct behavioral observations. Behavioral changes are indeed among the first indicators of a state of ill-being. Ethology (the science that studies animal behavior) and its methodology are valuable complementary tools for veterinary monitoring.

Welfare is an individual state and varies over time – so it is necessary to conduct regular assessments of the animals, if possible several times a year. To be as exhaustive as possible, our approach combines a questionnaire (what are the living conditions offered to the animal) and a behavioral observation (what are the real activities of the animal in its daily life). This questionnaire includes 80 questions relating to 4 areas (housing, food, health, and animal behavior), including photos (of the layout of the enclosure, the enrichments present, etc.). The observation sessions make it possible to report accurately and objectively on the behavior of the animal being evaluated. These two approaches are combined in the same mobile application, which not only saves time during the evaluation (all the answers are directly recorded and analyzed) but also to include the whole team in this follow-up: everyone can download the application on their mobile and carry out the assessment at any time of the day.

Our team of ethologists provides support throughout the year to support our partners in their efforts to improve the welfare of their animals.

After each evaluation, the strengths and weaknesses are identified to allow the animal team to target better the priority actions to be implemented. The team then sets short and medium-term objectives, and during the next evaluation progress can already appear. This can result, for example, in the establishment of new visual barriers, in a variety of enrichments offered, in the renovation of structures or shelters, in a change in the presentation of food, etc. Regular assessments guarantee a gradual and lasting improvement in the welfare of the animals assessed

Monitoring will allow a team to know how to focus their efforts to ensure animal welfare – in other words, are the efforts being made from the animal's point of view, and what are they doing? is it what is most beneficial for them?

Indeed, time is a limited resource, and it is not always easy to provide enrichments adapted to each individual when you have to manage a group of 25 flamingos, a tiger who lives alone, a rhinoceros who will soon be transferred to another park, a group of old non-human primates, etc. Thanks to regular monitoring, the teams constantly adjust their actions and the objectives are always determined with the teams. Using the mobile application saves time and efficiency compared to evaluations in paper format. So much time saved that can be invested in more actions with animals!

Let’s not forget that these evaluations also make it possible to highlight the good practices that the team has already put in place and help to encourage them to maintain them. This recognition of their work as well as the satisfaction that the team can feel, seeing their efforts bear fruit, is itself a source of welfare in their workplace.

Keeper, veterinarians, directors

They talk about
their commitment

David, Zoo keeper

The follow-up implementation allowed us to have an overview and helped us establish priorities. The reorganization of feeding areas and feeding areas positively influenced our primates' behavior from the first weeks!

Amelie, ethologists at AKONGO



Working with several parks in France and Europe allows us to transmit ideas, give feedback to the teams, and test new layouts of enclosures or new enrichments with them.

111

Committed professionals

380

Animals monitored

610

Assessments carried out

532

Total observation hours