Assessing the Nutritional Welfare and Status of Animals

This workshop was held at the 2019 NAG/AAZV conference and was hosted by Heidi Bissell, Katie Sullivan, Erin Kendrick, and Mike Maslanka.

The files from the workshop are available here:

Some of the above files are available as editable MS Word documents:


Bissell HA, Sullivan K, Kendrick E, Maslanka M. “Assessing the Nutritional Welfare and Status of Animals.”  Workshop presented at the at the 13th Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition Foundation / AZA Nutrition Advisory Group Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, St. Louis, MO, Sept 29 – Oct 2, 2019.


This workshop presented a toolbox of techniques that nutritionists, veterinarians, and animal staff can use to assess and quantify the nutritional health and welfare of their animals.  As part of the new AZA standard 1.5, accredited institutions must follow a written process for assessing animal welfare.  Nutrition is considered one of the “5 freedoms” (freedom from hunger and thirst), the “5 opportunities” (opportunity for a well-balanced diet), and is one of the “5 domains” of welfare.  Assessing the nutritional status or welfare of animals, though, is not straightforward, and quantifying it for an assessment can be even more challenging.  Assessing whether a diet works well for an animal involves integrating across multiple domains including balancing the nutrient composition of diets, measuring intake, assessing the physical condition of animals, evaluating blood and other diagnostic results, examining the presentation of diets and the resultant feeding behaviors, and assessing how well the diet is meeting the goals of the institution, taxa, and individual.

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