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Introducing Animal Welfare Fingerprinting and Heat-mapping

Dr Jake Veasey

Jan 9, 2024

Care for the Rare's whole facility-welfare assessment system.

Hi, my name is Dr Jake Veasey, and I'm excited to share with you details of Care for the Rare's ground-breaking whole facility animal welfare assessment methodology, and how it could transform how you manage welfare across your zoo, wildlife park, sanctuary, or aquarium.

I'm an animal welfare scientist and behavioural ecologist, with over twenty-five years experience operating and designing large wildlife facilities around the world, from extensive wildlife parks, through to sanctuaries, urban zoos, and aquariums.

This background has led me to conclude that wildlife facilities are not getting the information they need to drive animal welfare standards, to where they need to be. And that's why we developed our habitat-based animal welfare fingerprinting, and whole-facility welfare heatmapping tools.

Traditionally, animal welfare is assessed individually by reviewing behavioural, physiological, environmental, reproductive, management, and health-based data, from which, subjective welfare assessments are inferred. This approach poses profound challenges; in most reasonable sized facilities for example, it’s impossible to assess every animal, meaning many are excluded, and the typically narrative-based output, precludes comparative analysis between species, and throughout a given facility.

We believe assessing animal welfare in a way that empowers effective decision making, across a large, diverse wildlife facility, requires an entirely different approach.

In much the same way that a geneticist and an ecologist using very different technologies will make different but equally important discoveries about the same animal, our whole-facility welfare sequencing methodology, assesses welfare through a different lens from that used in conventional assessments. We collate and analyse data from multiple experts, across 20 criteria, allowing us to "sequence" the welfare performance of habitats, generating a unique, Animal Welfare Fingerprint for each.

This fingerprint establishes domain-based performance metrics for each habitat, which are directly comparable, enabling us to compare welfare performance between habitats, across species, and over time. By cross-validating the data provided by animal care staff, with that collected by our welfare experts, we leverage the benefits of combining independent oversight and expertise, with on the ground, insights, and experience.

Already, early iterations of this tool have delivered ground-breaking insights – we discovered for the first time that species-specific behavioural, locomotor, and social opportunities influenced rates of abnormal behaviours across species in a diverse wildlife facility, and intriguingly, demonstrated these factors, also significantly influenced visitor perceptions of welfare, and enjoyment of habitats.

To help visualize welfare performance across a facility, we generate an animal welfare performance heatmap. This distils thousands of data points and the results of each habitat based animal welfare fingerprint into a single image. Collectively, these combined outputs create a potent actionable performance management tool, which can dramatically enhance long-term, strategic, collection, and masterplanning, as well as welfare based prioritisation like no other tool.

If you want to find out more about how we can help you better understand animal welfare across your facilities, and provide actionable strategies to take welfare to the next level, please reach out to me directly, on and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you for your interest; we really hope to hear from you soon!

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