Hundreds Of Aquariums And Zoos Are Mistreating Animals, Says Study

by : Julia Banim on : 17 Aug 2019 17:30
World Animal Protection Animal Zoo Aquarium World Association of Zoos and AquariumsWorld Animal Protection Animal Zoo Aquarium World Association of Zoos and AquariumsPA

A devastating new report has revealed hundreds of aquariums and zoos across the world have been mistreating animals.


This report, conducted by World Animal Protection (WAP), has found many supposedly ‘gold standard’ zoos affiliated with the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) have subjected animals to ‘cruel and demeaning performances and activities’.

WAP have now called upon WAZA – the main worldwide umbrella organisation for zoos and aquariums- to hold their members to a higher standard of animal welfare.

World Animal Protection Animal Zoo Aquarium World Association of Zoos and AquariumsWorld Animal Protection Animal Zoo Aquarium World Association of Zoos and AquariumsWorld Animal Protection

WAP have criticised various zoos and aquariums for failing to meet WAZA guidelines, with practises which cause ‘great physical and mental distress to animals’. After conducting on-site field research, WAP reported various instances where WAZA affiliated zoos had mistreated animals.


Notable examples of mistreatment included forcing big cats (such as lions and tigers) to perform tricks and stunts onstage to loud music, and making primates wear costumes for ‘photo prop’ opportunities.

According to this report, 75 per cent of WAZA’s 1,241 direct and indirect members featured some variety of animal-visitor interaction. This sort of interaction can prove harmful to the physical and mental well-being of an animal; often involving the use of unethical training techniques.

According to this report:

To make wild animals interact with, and perform for, visitors, harsh training methods are frequently used that inflict appalling suffering.

Depending on the species, and the type of attraction, these methods can involve premature separation of baby animals from their mothers, starvation, physical restraint, pain and fear.

A dozen venues have been marked out as having particularly concerning animal welfare practices, including South Africa’s Cango Wildlife Ranch and Canada’s African Lion Safari.

According to the National Geographic, WAP’s global wildlife adviser Neil D’Cruze said indirect members as well as direct members were included within the report because WAZA needs to outline a code of ethics and an animal welfare policy for such zoos and aquariums.

Currently, there is no such policy in place. Unlike the US based Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), WAZA does not requires members to undertake an accreditation process.


As reported by the National Geographic, WAZA relies on accrediting member associations to enforce animal welfare standards throughout their member zoos and aquariums.

In order to obtain WAZA membership, an organisation will need to submit an application, alongside two supporting letters of support from existing WAZA members and a fee.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Animals, aquarium, World Animal Protection, World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, zoo


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  2. National Geographic

    Hundreds of zoos and aquariums accused of mistreating animals