24/7 Animal Welfare |
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Welcome on 24/7 Animal Welfare Workshop©, a concept that is concerned with providing good and positive animal welfare for animals in captivity, 24/7 across the lifespan.

Humans are an inevitable part of the lives of all captive animals, be they zoo-housed, companion, working, laboratory or farmed animals.

The premise of the 24/7 animal welfare concept is to consider, map out and research whether the needs and wants of individual animals under human care are being met, 24/7 across the lifespan. The 24/7 animal welfare concept described below was created by Sabrina Brando MSc and Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith, who continue to develop this fundamental concept to promoting optimal animal welfare across lifespan.

Animals are everywhere. In nature, in zoos, in research laboratories, on farms, in people's homes, on the streets, in so many different environments and settings, wild and in human care. An animal is an individual, and he or she cares how life is lived. Just like humans, other animals want to have a safe, fun, interesting, challenging, and comfortable life, preferably avoiding negative experiences. The type and frequency of positive and negative experiences is going to depend on many factors, and what choices and control animals have, wild or captive, and how individual animals perceive their world. Mice, rats, pigeons, chickens, cows, horses, marmosets, lizards, rays, frogs, tigers, elephants, dolphins, you name the species, all individual animals, no matter where, care about what happens to them.

It is our challenge as animal advocates to try to understand the animals we care for. We, for example, study the sensory and cognitive world (umwelt) of species in order to interpret their behaviour, understand their needs and assess and improve their welfare. Research on a wide variety of animal welfare topics should be conducted in all captive settings to contribute to the understanding of what animals need, want and what motivates them. Research on their behaviour, social life, nutrition, habitat as well as environmental enrichment, training and human-animal interactions is important to make science-based and ethical decisions in favour of the animals.

The focus should not only be on avoiding negative states, but very much on promoting positive animal welfare. Trying to understand what another creature being might be experiencing is challenging, and as Dr. Lori Gruen writes in her book Entangled Empathy, not easy. "Entangled empathy is not something we can engage in without critical attention, practice, and correction. I think it is wise to add a good dose of humility to the process of empathizing and the actions that spring from it. In other words, entangled empathy requites work; in that work, however, lie great rewards."

AnimalConcepts is about promoting high quality care for captive animals in human care, with a focus on positive animal welfare, a concept that is concerned with providing good and positive animal welfare for animals in captivity, 24/7 across the lifespan.

The 24/7 approach to promoting optimal welfare for captive wild animals

Sabrina Brando & Hannah M. Buchanan-Smith

Link to the original article can be found HERE, published in a special issue on Optimal Animal Welfare


We have an ethical responsibility to provide captive animals with environments that allow them to experience good welfare. Husbandry activities are often scheduled for the convenience of care staff working within the constraints of the facility, rather than considering the biological and psychological requirements of the animals themselves. The animal welfare 24/7 across the lifespan concept provides a holistic framework to map features of the animal’s life cycle, taking into account their natural history, in relation to variations in the captive environment, across day and night, weekdays, weekends, and seasons. In order for animals to have the opportunity to thrive, we argue the need to consider their lifetime experience, integrated into the environments we provide, and with their perspective in mind. Here, we propose a welfare assessment tool based upon 14 criteria, to allow care staff to determine if their animals’ welfare needs are met. We conclude that animal habitat management will be enhanced with the use of integrated technologies that provide the animals with more opportunities to engineer their own environments, providing them with complexity, choice and control.


Animal welfare, Birth to death, Habitat management, Technology, Zoo, 24/7 across lifespan


• New holistic conceptual framework in caring for captive wild animals 24/7 across lifespan is proposed.
• Considers individual’s life cycle needs and preferences influenced by a range of variations.
• An animal welfare assessment tool with 14 welfare criteria is proposed.
• Highlights importance of habitat management and use of technologies.

24/7 Animal Welfare Workshop©

The natural history of an animal, its biology, ecology and diet, sensory systems, natural habitat, social structure, major life history events, activity patterns, and human-animal interactions are among the many topics taken into account when developing species-specific animal welfare programs. Looking at the life cycle of a species, we find different life stages commonly divided into birth, baby, juvenile, adolescence, reproductive age, senescence and death. When we consider different life stages we can identify key features and considerations likely to be of importance to the welfare of the species. To manage a species appropriately in captivity, it is important to find out about each of these key considerations and develop a management plan accordingly.

24/7 across lifespan framework, illustrating the different aspects that should be considered and integrated.
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Example of an average (A) summer and (B) winter day considering different activities and time with the animals (personal observations by Brando, based on 25 years of practical experiences in zoos).
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“At Acquario di Cattolica we found the workshop very useful and interesting, and it resulted in major environmental, husbandry and human-animal interaction changes for the penguins.”

“It highlighted the details we have to consider when thinking about animal welfare, the importance of evaluation, reviewing current processes and protocols, as well as the evidence-based decision making."

“The 24/7 workshop was an invaluable occasion for the keepers to understand the importance of animal
wellbeing. Through practical examples, it offered us the means to act towards the improvement of our animals' welfare, stimulating their natural behaviour with the enrichments.”

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Sabrina Brando is the director of AnimalConcepts and is pursuing a PhD at the University of Stirling in Scotland on the topic of “24/7 across lifespan: zoo animal and human wellbeing” with Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith as her principal supervisor. She is a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Institution, manages 24/7 Animal Welfare and is the Primate Care Training Program Coordinator for the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance. She also is a Level 1 Instructor for international charity The Shape of Enrichment. She has worked in and with the global zoo and wildlife profession, including zoos, aquariums, wildlife centres and sanctuaries for 27 years. Sabrina has a BSc. in psychology and an MSc. in animal studies, and recently completed a Compassion Fatigue Strategies certificate with the University of Florida Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program, College of Veterinary Medicine.

Globally known as an animal welfare scientist, she prefers to say, ‘I am in the business of animal happiness, PS: the human animal too!’. Animal care professionals are playing a key role in animal wellbeing. Dedication to caring for animals and the people who care for them is the core of AnimalConcepts’s philosophy, recognising that the human-animal relationship is essential for the wellbeing of both. Sabrina feels compassion awareness is key in the animal care profession in order for animal care professionals to serve animals and people with compassion and integrity. “My career purpose is to promote positive wellbeing for animals and the people who care for them.”

Through AnimalConcepts Sabrina has to date organised 361 events beside presenting at conferences, consulting for organisations worldwide and active engagement with non-profits through pro bono work. She teaches as a guest lecturer at various universities and colleges as well as many zoos, aquariums and sanctuaries worldwide, on animal welfare, behaviour, environmental enrichment, animal training, the human-animal relationship, and other topics. Sabrina serves on zoo expert groups and collaborates on a wide variety of research projects regarding animal care and wellbeing, behaviour, and advocacy, serves as a reviewer on academic journals, contributes chapters to animal wellbeing books, and has published extensively both popular and academic articles.
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Hannah Buchanan-Smith strives to improve the welfare of animals. Hannah obtained a BSc (Hons) from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland and was awarded her PhD at the University of Reading, England. Hannah’s PhD research combined captive and field studies of tamarin monkeys. Studying the tamarins in Bolivia brought a new perspective to her views on animal welfare and a change in research direction. Hannah is now a Professor at the University of Stirling, Scotland, and the Founder and Head of their Behaviour and Evolution Research Group and a member of the Scottish Primate Research Group.

Hannah conducts fundamental scientific research on the behaviour, ecology, evolution and welfare of mammals in a range of captive environments (including zoos, laboratories, and animal shelters). Where appropriate she advocates a combined approach of field research in natural habitats, together with hypotheses testing under controlled conditions in captivity, to provide a fuller understanding of the genetic, physiological and psychological underpinnings of behaviour. These combined methodologies ensure a multi-disciplinary approach to studying behaviour and welfare.

Hannah has a fundamental interest in human-animal relationships and interactions, and the importance of choice, complexity and control for animal welfare. She is currently collaborating with Sabrina Brando on the Animal Welfare 24/7 across the lifespan concept. Hannah has published over 100 articles in refereed journals on topics ranging from personality to visual perception. She has contributed to a number of documents providing guidance on animals on keeping animals in captivity. She promotes animal welfare through a range of websites, including Marmoset Care.

Hannah is Director of the Masters degree at the University of Stirling, on Human Animal Interactions. This degree introduces students to interdisciplinary approaches and a diverse range of methods used to research our relationships with other species. It covers a broad range of topics and considers human-animal interactions across a diverse range of contexts from pet owning to animal assisted interventions, zoos, farms and conservation.