The Five Domains of
Animal Welfare

When it comes to caring for animals, we consider all aspects of their welfare. From environment to nutrition, to physical health and behaviour – all of these combined contribute to a positive mental state for an animal. Developed by Massey University Professor David Mellor, we follow the Five Domains model like other modern zoos around the world, to ensure the animals in our care have the best lives possible.

Domain 1: Nutrition

Our veterinarians and keepers create dietary plans tailored to every species' biology. We ensure the food they receive is pesticide-free, high quality and meets the nutritional requirements they need to stay healthy. The way food is presented is important too. Our staff find creative ways to help promote curiosity and encourage natural foraging and feeding behaviours, which helps keep the animals active and healthy.

Domain 2: Environment

All species at Auckland Zoo enjoy living in environments which are enriching and stimulating. We also make sure they get access to secluded areas because just like us humans, they sometimes need a little privacy. By carefully designing and planting their habitats and manipulating humidity and temperature conditions, we aim to provide them with surroundings each species would experience in the wild.

Domain 3: Physical Health

We provide the highest standard of veterinary and health care for every animal. Our team has expert training and experience to support each species with wildlife medicine, surgery, diagnostics and pathology. We also have a strong focus on preventative healthcare. Our keepers are constantly monitoring every animal and conducting regular health checks in ways that minimise stress and risk of injury. Because getting each animal comfortable (and even participating) with their health checks, is key to their wellbeing.

Domain 4: Behaviour

The way we house, feed and train the animals in our care promotes and stimulates natural behaviour. We use behavioural enrichment and training programmes to foster positive behaviour which includes foraging, investigative activity, and natural body movements helpful for health checks. We go to great lengths to ensure species are treated with the dignity they deserve and that all interactions with humans are based on mutual trust, cooperation, and confidence.

Domain 5: Mental State

The domains of nutrition, environment, health and behaviour all overlap and work together to promote a positive mental state. Our dedicated teams work together to ensure the animals in our care have everything they need so they can live happy and healthy lives. There’s a real science to how we care for animals and nothing is more important to us than seeing the animals thrive here at Auckland Zoo.

Science of care videos