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

A concept that is concerned with providing opportunities for good and positive animal welfare for animals in captivity, 24/7 across the lifespan.

Positive animal welfare

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 captive.

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 are 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 and want. Research on their behaviour, social life, nutrition, habitat as well as environmental enrichment, training and the human-animal interaction is important to make science-based and ethical decisions in favour of the animals.

The focus should not be only on avoiding negative states, but very much on focusing on positive animal welfare. Trying to understand what another 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.

Academic & practical collaborations and applications

The pursuit of optimal animal welfare requires an interdisciplinary and global approach, combining practical expertise and the sciences of animal welfare, including e.g., sleep, nutrition, mental wellbeing, behaviour, human-animal interactions, and environment. It requires considering the experiences of individual animals 24/7 across lifespan. 

Sabrina Brando PhD Candidate

Sabrina is director of AnimalConcepts and the Practical Animal Welfare Science platform, the Primate Care Training Program Coordinator for the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, and her work and research revolves around care, welfare, and ethics related topics. Sabrina is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Stirling on the topic of human wellbeing and the human-animal interconnectedness.


Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith

Hannah is a professor in the Psychology department with the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Stirling. Hannah is interested in animal behaviour and ecology, comparative colour vision, animal welfare and human-animal interactions and has conducted both field research, and research on captive animals. Through various efforts Hannah promotes the welfare of animals housed in captivity.


Explore and use our article & workshop as awareness tools

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 the individual animals under human care are being supported and met, 24/7 across the lifespan.

Example workshop common marmoset family

Please note that this workshop is not an animal welfare assessment.

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.

True animal welfare assessments would be based on animal-based indicators, monitored and assessed based on long-term data, and preferably validated through animal welfare research.



  • 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.

Brando, S., & Buchanan-Smith, H. M. (2018). The 24/7 approach to promoting optimal welfare for captive wild animals. Behavioural Processes, 156, 83-95. DOI



The 24/7 across lifespan poster you can download, print, and or share to hang in key places.



The 24/7 across lifespan web-poster you can interact online using the links to further reading and videos within.



The 24/7 across lifespan interactive booklet describing all 14 animal welfare criteria from the original article.

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Download the 24/7 concept & pretransfer checklist

The 24/7 animal welfare is a concept that is concerned with promoting good and positive animal welfare for animals in human care, 24/7 across the lifespan. This concept is developed with Professor Buchanan-Smith at the University of Stirling.

The pretransfer checklist has been assembled by Dr. Sarah Chapman from Chapman Zoo Consultancy and Sabrina Brando from AnimalConcepts.

At AnimalConcepts we understand your commitment and desire to be at your best to achieve excellence in animal care and welfare

Like you, we care about wellbeing and conservation, and we know the challenges of balancing these goals. We listen to your needs to help you do the best job you can.

Streamlined, up-to-date findings in the field are the best way to effectively prepare your staff to lead your institution to the forefront of animal welfare and conservation, all while building resilience and optimal occupational health. Accessing simplified tools and practical resources has never been easier through our signature Practical Animal Welfare Science platform.

Our services also include animal welfare programme design and career coaching, with a focus on 24/7 animal welfare and take care to give care approaches for individuals and organisations.

We combine science and practical experiences with compassion and creativity to create empathetic sustainable wellbeing programs for animals and people working in welfare and conservation.

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