Sydney Zoo accepts the agreed international definition of animal welfare from the World Organisation for Animal Health (or OIE – Office International des Epizooties):

Animal welfare is defined by how an animal copes with the conditions in which it lives. An animal is considered to be in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour and is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear or distress. Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management, nutrition, humane handling and humane euthanasia (when euthanasia is necessary). Animal welfare refers to the state of the animal; the treatment an animal receives is covered by other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry and humane treatment.

As an educational and conservation-oriented institution with responsibility for the care of animals, Sydney Zoo will always ensure that the needs, interests and welfare of our animals is our primary consideration. We believe that good animal welfare is essential to providing visitors with a rewarding and enjoyable experience and hence is essential for the long-term viability of our business.

Our commitment to animal welfare is to provide respect and the best care for our animals as well as strive to be an advocate and an authority on animal welfare.

Sydney Zoo follows the Zoo and Aquarium Association welfare framework model which recognises the affective (psychological) states of welfare in animals. The Five Welfare Domains and examples of related positive states are:


  1. Nutrition: e.g. appropriate consumption of nutritious foods is a pleasurable experience
  2. Environmental: e.g. benign conditions offer adaptive choices and variety
  3. Health: e.g. physically sound (uninjured, disease-free) animals enjoy good health
  4. Behaviour: e.g. environment-focused and inter-animal activities are satisfying and engaging


  1. Mental or Affective State: e.g. animals experience comfort, pleasure, interest and confidence

Sydney Zoo’s commitment to the Five Welfare Domains


Animal nutrition is fully researched to deliver a naturalistic, balanced diet catered to individual needs and circumstances. The diets are assessed daily by senior animal staff to ensure that the highest quality and correct quantities of food are offered. Feeding of the animals is conducted in a way that simulates their natural hunting and foraging behaviours by randomising feeding times, food placement and size of offerings. We will maintain high standards of hygienic food and water preparation, handling and storage.


The habitat designs deliver a variety of surfaces and textures using enclosure furniture and substrates. These include changes in elevation where the animals can choose to be high on top of a hill or climbing structure, under cover low down within the habitat, or sit in or next to a water feature. We have provided environmental variety within the habitat to offer choice to the animal. All habitats will provide shelter from weather, minimise exposure to fear and distress and allow each animal an opportunity to escape aggression from other animals.


 Sydney Zoo delivers a leading veterinary care program that meets current international standards for zoo and wildlife health care, and which understands and adapts to individual as well as species needs. All animals at Sydney Zoo are visually assessed by senior animal care staff and veterinary staff daily. Scheduled, detailed physical assessments by our veterinary staff are performed on all animals on a regular basis. All animals at Sydney Zoo have their individual health assessed and recorded by our veterinary staff.


Sydney Zoo has adopted strategies and designs to encourage natural behaviours that inspire curiosity and offer challenges. Where appropriate, social animals are kept in groups to encourage natural interactions and socialisation. Habitats are designed to engage the animals and provide physical and sensory stimulation. The animal care staff assess the behaviour of each individual animal and vary their daily routines and conditioning to provide rewarding interactions and enrichment.

 Mental or Affective State

Sydney Zoo’s focus is to provide a positive environment for our animals encouraging their natural instincts and behaviours, while maintaining their physical and mental health. Large enclosure sizes, companion animals and a constant variety of experiences provides the framework for achieving our goal.

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