Water World
Water World Ocean Park Hong Kong
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Animal Welfare

Responsible Population Management

Responsible Population Management

Ocean Park is committed to providing systematic attention to positive animal welfare and to the humane and ethical treatment of all animals in the collection. Expert professional care and management ensures that the physical, psychological, and social needs of individual animals and species are met within the parameters of modern zoological philosophy and practice. Acquisition of animals from other facilities through rescue, breeding loans, exchanges or purchases is only carried out after careful planning and coordination. The Park has developed breeding programmes and collaborations with like-minded institutions, breeding such threatened species as the Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey, giant panda and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin. From these breeding programmes, the Park has been able to celebrate new members added to its collection.

The Park’s care provides for a positive welfare state for aged animals. Notwithstanding expert professional care, there are times when nature prevails and the care provided cannot sway the course of nature. This includes when an animal comes to the end of its lifespan, or factors influencing survivorship and reproductive success result in stillbirth or disease. Every case of mortality is reviewed and in some instances investigated to aid in further enhancing the Park’s animal care practices. The most recent example is the giant panda, Jia Jia, who reached 38 years old and was the longest lived giant panda under human care. Sadly, her life came to a close, but celebration of her life continues in her offspring and will continue in their offspring.

Other ambassadors within the collection may be transferred by way of breeding loans with other animal facilities, return to their original facilities, or be released into the wild, such as with rehabilitated local wildlife. The Park ensures that recipient facilities are equipped with the expertise and resources required to provide for the welfare of the animals throughout their lives.

A gentoo penguin raising its chick
A gentoo penguin raising its chick
A baby zebra shark
A baby zebra shark
A baby pygmy marmoset on its parent’s back
A baby pygmy marmoset on its parent’s back
A blue-crowned laughingthrush feeding its chick
A blue-crowned laughingthrush feeding its chick
The eggs of yellow-foot tortoise
The eggs of yellow-foot tortoise
Growing coral
Growing coral

    Ocean Park advocates that zoos and aquariums have a responsibility to achieve high standards of animal welfare in support of their goal as modern conservation organisations. We believe it is our obligation to provide positive welfare states that meet the animals’ physical, mental and safety needs. From exhibit design to daily operation, we follow the criteria below for assessing and promoting animal welfare, based on the “Five Domains” adopted by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the “Five Freedoms” set out by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (now the Farm Animal Welfare Committee) of the United Kingdom:

    Five Domains

    Five Freedoms

    Appropriate consumption of nutritious foods

    Freedom from thirst and hunger:
    By ready access to fresh water and food to maintain full health and vigour

    Benign conditions offering comfort and safety

    Freedom from discomfort:
    By providing an appropriate environment

    Physical health:
    Good physical health securing robustness and vitality

    Freedom from pain, injury, and disease:
    By prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment

    Rewarding activities involving variety, choice, and benign challenge;
    allowing expression of behaviour

    Freedom to express normal behaviour:
    By providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal’s own kind

    Mental or affective state:
    Ensuring comfort, pleasure, interest, and confidence;
    minimising survival-related negative experiences

    Freedom from fear and distress:
    By ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

    We recognise the importance of exceptional animal care and uncompromised animal welfare in support of our vision and mission. In 2008, an Animal Welfare, Ethics and Care Committee was formed, comprising representatives from various divisions within Ocean Park and an external animal welfare expert. The Committee is tasked to ensure that animal care and welfare standards are maintained and considered in all decisions relating to our animals. It also aims to promote a corporate culture whereby all staff understand and support animal welfare.

    Council, F. A. W. (2009). Farm animal welfare in Great Britain: Past, present and future. Farm Animal Welfare Council.
    Edwards, J. D. (2004, February). The role of the veterinarian in animal welfare: a global perspective. In Global conference on animal welfare: an OIE initiative (pp. 27-32).
    Mellor, D. J., Hunt, S., & Gusset, M. (2015). Caring for wildlife: The world zoo and aquarium animal welfare strategy. Gland, Switzerland: WAZA Executive Office.