Training zoo animals for better welfare, better nursing.
Background: Historically, methods used to carry out veterinary procedures in animals within a zoo usually involved manual restraint or darting as a first choice. Aim: To see whether any animal can be trained and if that trained behaviour will improve animal welfare through allowing veterinary procedures to be carried out. Method: A range of species were looked at retrospectively to establish if they could be trained and how that affected welfare. A study was then carried out using a group of Zebras, who were trained for hand injection for their annual vaccination. Results: Case studies indicated that any animal can be trained and the results of using training could improve their welfare. The use of remote delivery systems, such as darts, resulted in pain, stress and deferred aggression. Conclusion: A number of different species can be trained to carry out a behaviour, if this is applied in all animals the need for restraint and general anaesthesia could be reduced. This would result in improved welfare to zoo animals, but can be applied to all patients, exotic and small animal.