||Check the type of information they provide before you go. Do they have a map or a detailed list of what you’ll see? Do they provide any rules of conduct e.g., no eating or drinking around the enclosures? Any noise and camera etiquettes? Do they talk about education opportunities?
||Check their website to see their accreditation, and how they present their mission, their animals and the conservation projects they are involved with.
|Visitors & Onsite Etiquette
||Check their website to review the rules of conducts that they ask their visitor to observe. Don’t forget to also review our EwA Etiquette for the Zoogoer. With both in mind (and in action) during your visit, you’ll be a stellar visitor! Make a note to observe how other tourists behave, to check on the noise levels and to take photos/videos when appropriate.
||Make a note to discuss (when possible) with the keepers to evaluate how much they actually know –for instance about the natural habitat, the natural behavior, the social structure of the animals they exhibit, etc,. Are they regular keepers or volunteers brought in for certain visits? What is their conservation message? Do they embody ethical conservation?
||Check how effective education opportunities are including the enclosure signage.
||Educate yourself before you go on some of your preferred animals. Learn about their habits, habitats, threats. And then based on this new knowledge about the animals you love and will be seeing then gauge how the enclosures stand up to the wild habitat or ideal zoo enclosures. Are there signs of sufficient space and enrichment? Ask the keepers details about the out-of-sight enclosure sizes and enrichment programs. Be ready to evaluate against the Five Freedoms.
|Animal behavior (distress, curiosity, etc.)
||Get to know how to identify signs of distress or boredom, or abnormal behavior depending on their social structure. Be ready to evaluate against the Five Freedoms framework and the Captivity Standards Indicators.
|Noise levels & noise pollution
||Remember that animals have much better hearing than humans generally. Remember that you’ll need to be quiet. Get ready to identify where the noise is coming from and understand/see how the zoo enforces quietness of the visitors (minimal talking, laughing, no screaming, etc.).
|Customer care vs. Animal care
||From your observations, what is the zoo prioritizing? Is it an entertainment business or an animal welfare habitat allowing people to visit and learn?
|Application of the Five Freedoms
||Take the Five Freedoms and the Captivity Standards Indicators with you during your visit. Then question, question, and question again! It is understood that captive conditions can’t match natural conditions, however when suboptimal conditions are clear, they need to be changed. This starts with us being aware of what minimal conditions ought to be, so that we help enhancing current captive conditions.