Zoo visitors may not have noticed it but many zoo and aquarium environments today mimic species-specific surroundings so that animals will behave naturally. Although animal care in zoos have evolved over the past 50 years, zoo and aquarium operators now follow a new standard of providing ‘animal welfare, which denotes a deeper understanding of caring for animals.

Throughout the intervening years, the community professionals behind the management of zoos and aquariums have fundamentally changed the way how the zoo industry should care for animals.

Up to the 1980s, the zoos in most major U.S. city had animals from around the world boxed up in rows of bare concrete structures, secured by jailhouse-style bars. Although most animals seem to be in healthy physical condition, it was noticeable that they were aware that they were living life in captivity. The animals were either staring blankly or acting restlessly, listlessly pacing the four corners of their cages.


The Animal Conservation Message

Early zoos were simply places where aristocrats of the Victorian rts can keep their collection of exotic animals to be shown as private exhibits. Yet the administrators and caretakers had no proper training in keeping the animals alive, let alone take good care of them.

It was only in the first half of the 20th century when zoos became public, under the supervision of administrators who focused on conditions that will keep the animals in good physical health. The changes though included zoo designs that resembled bathroom spaces, as the tiled surfaces made it easier to steam-sterilize the animal confinements.

Still, the past 50 years saw the establishment of conservation and educational institutions that gave attention to the rights of animals taken away from their natural habitats and forced to live among humans. Their messages of conservation made it important to improve zoo designs with landscape features.

Displaying animals in settings that resemble their natural environments not only enable visitors to have a better image of the species. It also allows the animals to live and behave more naturally even while living under human supervision.

The Establishment of Standards and Recognition of Best Practices in Zoo Animal Care

As the calls for better animal care were stronger, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) became instrumental in upgrading the standards in animal care to the more meaningful, animal welfare. Through AZA accreditation, maintaining the best practices is an achievement that merits the highest level of professional recognition conferred to accredited North American zoos and aquariums.

An AZA accreditation serves as proof of sound business operation backed by activities in conservation, education, and research, whilst providing quality life for animals under zoo care.