The selection of ambassador animals coming out of wildlife rehabilitation facilities is an evolving process as information grows regarding long-term physical impacts of disabilities on an animal’s quality of life. Ambassador animal welfare traditionally addressed nourishment, length of life, and physical safety while in human care. More facilities are now focusing on cognitive well-being, including examining if individuals are free from pain, fear, and distress as a measure of welfare. And, as more trainers are adopting choice-based training methods using the least number of aversive stimuli possible, bird selection is the first step in the welfare process. Cascades Raptor Center has developed rigorous criteria for all birds before they are added to our team. Data collected from wellness monitoring of our current bird collection coupled with nearly 30 years of comprehensive necropsy reports have provided information indicating that many disabilities that result in non-releasable status also preclude individuals from having a high quality of life in human care. Setting an ambassador animal up for a successful life in human care begins with appropriate, well considered selection. This presentation will discuss assessment of suitable candidates, and some initial training steps of a new ambassador.
Day two will focus on a practical approach to improving welfare at raptor centers of all sizes. Jason and Sidney will share practical lessons from directing their facilities through change from a folklore husbandry model to evidence-based practices. They will discuss what good welfare looks like for humans and animals, how and why to build fundamental behaviors, and troubleshooting common problems.
Determining the best role for ambassador birds can greatly improve their overall welfare. This lecture will highlight some of the successful case studies and how changes in welfare inspired the evolution of Carolina Raptor Center’s conservation messaging.
A panel discussion of NEI TEC guest faculty members and Steve Martin. They gather to have a conversation about their thoughts on the presentations and questions from the previous sessions. The panelists share their final thoughts and answer attendee questions.