Animals should be protected from unnecessary suffering but also keepers should strive to safeguard the welfare of their animal, taking into account its mental as well as physical state. The health and welfare of many exotic species cannot be guaranteed in captivity but animal keepers should aim to provide the ‘five freedoms’.
The five freedoms were originally defined by the Farm Animal Welfare Council in 1992 but can be broadly applied to encompass all captive animals, as follows:
Freedom from hunger and thirst
Requires adequate knowledge of the species and its needs. The ready availability of, often, specialised food may be needed to prevent malnutrition.
Freedom from discomfort
Requires knowledge of the species’ behaviour in the wild and its natural environment and how this can be effectively translated to a captive setting.
Freedom from pain, injury or disease
Requires adequate veterinary knowledge and availability of, as well as access to, veterinarians with such expertise.
Freedom to express normal behaviour
Requires insight into the natural behaviour of the species in the wild and how this can be provided in a captive setting (e.g. branches for climbing, social groups etc.)
Freedom from fear and distress
Requires the ability to recognise positive, neutral and negative psychological states in the animal, as well as knowledge of how to address negative and neutral states.