Guiding Principles for Animal Experiences at Zoos Victoria

Zoos Victoria is a zoo-based conservation organisation that works to fight extinction. A key factor in achieving this is by providing opportunities for people to connect with nature and ultimately be inspired to protect and care for animals.

School programs at Zoos Victoria are designed to facilitate this connection with nature in school groups by providing animal experiences that involve students engaging their senses: listening, observing, smelling and when appropriate touching animal artefacts. We do not touch the animals.

Underpinning these ambitious conservation goals are high standards of animal welfare. Zoos Victoria strives to be an international leader of best practices in the care and wellbeing of animals. ‘Good zoos’ go to every possible length to ensure animals in their care have a life worth living. A large part of this includes creating situations where animals feel pleasure, happiness and contentment as well as mental stimulation.

We prioritise animal welfare and wellbeing and we do not touch animals. Animals may not always be visible at all times. Good animal welfare enables them opportunities to retreat to quiet spaces as they chose to.

When interacting with animals at the zoo, as well as in your day to day life in other settings, you may wish to reflect on the following ethical considerations:

  • What is the animal experiencing during the interaction and in the lead up to the interaction?
  • Do they have control over their own participation in the interaction with the human?
  • Does the animal appear relaxed and comfortable during the interaction or fearful and flighty?
  • Is the animal in a familiar, safe and comfortable environment?
  • How is the animal being housed when not involved in interactions?