Code of practice for the public display of exhibition of animals
BUREAU OF ANIMAL WELFARE, ATTWOOD
This Code has been prepared to ensure the welfare of wildlife and exotic animals held in confinement in zoos, wildlife parks, circuses and travelling exhibitions.
The Code provides general guidelines on the minimum standards for the maintenance of health and for the husbandry, housing, display and disposal of these animals: it provides a framework for a wide range of animals to be kept and displayed under acceptable levels of care and husbandry.
Native and exotic animals are held in captivity under varying circumstances and for a range of reasons, including community education, promotion of the concept of conservation and ecology of species or for research. This code covers those animals, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians kept for display and does not relate to animals being used for research.
A display, demonstration or exhibition can have significant educational merit. The display may provide information on, and an understanding of, the ecology of an animal and reinforce the importance of conserving the natural environment. The display of animals may also be used in an educational context to indicate the diversity of animal life. These benefits are important and captive animals provide a first hand opportunity for the general community to experience the many species of animals to which they would not normally be exposed. Animals may also be displayed for entertainment which is not inconsistent with community expectations providing that the display is accompanied by conservation, environmental or other educational messages.
The health and welfare of animals in captivity is totally dependent upon both the physical environment and the standard of human care. The relationship between captive animals and their keepers is usually instrumental in maintaining optimum health and well being.
People, upon receiving permits to keep will animals, need to familiarise themselves with the particular requirements of the species they wish to keep. A thorough knowledge of the species in the wild will enable adequate captive conditions to be provided. Holders of wild animals will also need to regularly consult up-to-date references and relevant institutions including the Healesville Sanctuary, Melbourne Zoo and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), on the husbandry of captive wild animals.
A licence from the DEDJTR is required by operators of these premises and it will stipulate the species to be kept and transported and conditions to which the operation must adhere. Operators are required to comply with relevant State, Federal and International legal requirements and should liaise with the appropriate bodies. The Code provides the basic information necessary to maintain the welfare of animals at a satisfactory level. The DEDJTR licence identifies which animals may be kept with particular reference to the suitability of animals to be kept in fixed or travelling circumstances.
For the purposes of this Code, wild animals are defined as any animal of a vertebrate species including hybrids of those animals but does not include man, domestic animals or fish.
The Manager is responsible for the performance of all staff - veterinarians, animal attendants, drivers, ground staff and others - and for the preparation of and adherence to an overall management plan for the development and maintenance of the establishment, the condition of the animals and the conditions in which they live. In particular, the Manager is responsible for:
- the well-being of the animals in the establishment,
- daily feeding, watering and inspection of all animals,
- regular veterinary examination and providing prompt veterinary attention when required,
- hygiene, comfort and providing appropriate accommodation for each species,
- providing appropriate quality of environment within individual species' enclosures,
- preparing overall management policy for the establishment including adherence to provisions of all related Acts, Regulations, Codes or licence conditions,
- the employment, training an supervision of the staff,
- providing access to reference material on animal management to staff,
- reproductive programs, identification and handling of animals,
- maintenance of records and statistics.
Each establishment must have a contractual arrangement with a veterinary practice or practitioner to be available and be responsible to the Manager for the health and treatment of the animals. The contractual arrangement should particularly address:
- a preventative medicine program,
- recognition and treatment of infectious and zoonotic diseases,
- prompt treatment other than first aid where required,
- humane euthanasia as necessary,
- provide advice regarding housing and enclosure design, transport vehicle, capture and handling techniques and nutrition.
Should be trained and experienced in the skills of capture, handling and management of animals and should be responsible to the Manager for,
- daily feeding, watering and inspection of all animals,
- daily cleaning of facilities,
- reporting of sick animals to management,
- generally assisting in maintaining the quality of environment in each enclosure.
Attendants should be trained in the skills of handling animals and would preferably have successfully completed an appropriate training course. Details of appropriate courses should be provided as an attachment to the DEDJTR licence.
They should be trained in first aid application for both animals and humans. Where venomous snakes are kept, staff should be well versed in the application of correct first-aid treatment for snake-bite.
It is necessary to provide adequate safeguards in order to protect the health of attendants, including adequate hand washing facilities, protective clothing and equipment, tetanus immunisation and access to antivenenes. Some hazards exist with certain species of animals which are known to harbour disease-causing organisms which can be transmitted to humans (zoonoses) and hygiene measures should be such that transmission to personnel will not occur.
Food suitable for the particular species should be provided in a manner which is consistent with the species requirements to maintain good health and to encourage the natural feeding behaviours of the species. Sufficient feeding sites should be provided to cater for all specimens in an enclosure. For example, dominant primates may monopolise feeding sites and to prevent this, food should be cut small and scattered around the enclosure. Food should be of high quality and free from contamination by rodents, insects and chemicals. Diets should be complete and balanced and food items provided in quantities necessary for growth and the maintenance of healthy body condition. Specific information on feeding requirements of individual species can be obtained from the Zoological Board of Victoria.
Food Storage- All fresh and dry food items should be kept in suitable storage areas to ensure nutritional value is sustained. Fridges and freezers should maintain the appropriate temperature for fish, meat and vegetables. Grains and pellets should be kept dry and food containers should be labelled and the shelf life of the contents should be monitored. Correct stacking methods should be maintained in hay sheds to ensure that hay and straw are not directly on the ground and are kept dry and free from contaminates. Food containers, where appropriate, should be non spillable and roofed if placed in the open.
Live vertebrates should not be used as a food item unless they are required absolutely as a food source by a species or individual animal. Frogs should not be kept unless a constant supply of live insects can be ensured. Live rodents should not be left in a reptile enclosure overnight or for an extended period and wild caught rodents should not be used. Food animals should be euthanased in a humane manner without toxic chemicals. Care should be taken to ensure food animals which have been stored by freezing, are thoroughly thawed, particularly before being fed to raptors or reptiles.
Isolating particular animals during or immediately after feeding may be necessary to prevent accidental injury to, or ingestion of, cage-mates. It is important to observe feeding, particularly that of snakes.
For reptiles, optimal preferred temperatures (available from Zoological Board of Victoria) should be maintained during feeding and digestion. Food should only be offered when the appropriate temperature is available before, during and at least 48-120 hours (depending on the species) after feeding. Snakes that have food in their stomachs generally should not be handled. Force-feeding of reptiles is not desirable on a long-term basis, although it may be required as a supportive measure whilst corrective husbandry is investigated.
Animal species, including species of waterfowl, which are regarded as grazing species should have daily access to permanent pasture or be supplemented with fresh greens or pasture derivatives, for example hay.
Clean, cool water should be available at all times; exemptions from this requirement may include arid-zone species or the temporary withholding of standing water during periods of pre-mating stimulation. Water containers should not be located in direct sunlight and should be designed to suit the animals' needs which may include swimming, sloughing, wallowing, bathing and drinking.
Containers should be non spillable and of a design that can be easily drained and cleaned and does not cause injury to the animal.
Water, at a temperature within the species optimal preferred range, should be available at all times. Many lizards and some snakes only gain moisture by absorbing dew, rain, etc, through their skins or by drinking off vegetation. In these cases, the animals or cage foliage can be mist-sprayed daily but care must be taken to avoid excessive humidity.
Facilities should be decontaminated regularly. Regular water changes are necessary to maintain optimal water quality for aquatic species and to prevent contamination of the animals captive environment. Details on the recommended frequency of water changes may be obtained from the Zoological Board of Victoria. In aquaria displays, water may be cleaned by filtration and filters should be cleaned often enough to maintain the water quality.
Pens should be well drained. Sick or injured animals should be removed from public viewing areas into isolation or treatment facilities supervised by the veterinarian and examined at least once daily.
Parasites, both external and internal, and vermin, including rats and mice, should be controlled.
The use of strong-smelling disinfectants is not recommended for non domestic cats except in exceptional circumstances, as these chemicals can cause discomfort and sickness in some animals. Herbal disinfectants may be an appropriate alternative.
3.4 Safety and Security
The maintenance of secure containment is a vital consideration in the design of animal accommodation. Enclosures must be constructed and designed to minimise the risk of animal escape or keeper or public injury.
Many animals, especially young ones, are very attractive to people, but can deliver serious bites or scratches. Tactile displays should ensure that animals have sufficient space and protection to avoid human contact and the Manager is responsible for ensuring that only animals suitable to human handling are used in tactile displays. Under no circumstances should native animals being rehabilitated for release back into the wild be used in tactile displays. Enclosures of potentially dangerous animals should have a safety fence of a suitable height and construction to prevent public contact with the animals.
Facilities for isolating potentially dangerous animals in one part of an enclosure complex will allow access to the remainder of the enclosure for maintenance. Large animals, however tame, are potentially dangerous and lock-away facilities must be included in complexes for these animals. All enclosures for these animals should be entered via a safety cage or corridor.
Dens for potentially dangerous animals, such as large primates or large cats, should be connected to the main enclosure by vertically or horizontally sliding doors operable from the Keeper area. Any operating mechanism, such as cables and pulleys, must be well out of reach of the animals.
Animals on display or being transported should be protected from other animals and humans and safety measures for both humans and animals should be part of the management plan.
Appropriate precautions shall be provided in advance of any possible emergency. Such precautions shall include notification of the nearest suitable hospital of all species of dangerously-venomous snakes held by the establishment so that an appropriate supply of antivenene can be provided in advance. A first-aid kit and bandages for treatment of snake-bite should also be held close to where the snakes, are maintained.
Rooms containing all reptiles, especially venomous species, should be constructed in such a way that, in the event of an escape, the reptile will be contained within the room. Consequently, gaps or holes in the floor, walls or around closed doors should be eliminated and windows should be locked and\or properly fitted with suitable wire mesh. All external entries should be lockable. A formal security and inspection system should be implemented to ensure that access doors and lids are kept locked.
In addition to signs required for the public display of reptiles, each enclosure shall be marked for the keeper's benefit with the correct name and number of contained reptiles. If the reptiles are venomous, this should be stated and be clearly visible.
The conservation of threatened species should be a major priority for facilities that hold these animals and co-operative breeding programs, often on an international scale, are becoming increasingly common, for example the Australian Species Management Program. These programs are important to ensure that animals on display are of pure stock and are genetically diverse resulting in a reduced need to remove new specimens from the wild. Advice should be sought from stud book keepers and species co-ordinators of these programs, on which individual animals should be mated to give favourable genetic results and how often breeding should occur in order to stay within the constraints of welfare and available accommodation.
Sterilisation, separation of sexes or chemical fertility control are some practices that should be considered where animals are not required for breeding. An objective of co-operative breeding programs is to maintain healthy stocks of animals suitable for release into the wild for future generations when changes in human attitudes and the availability of habitat may permit this to occur. Captive breeding has already saved many species from extinction.
Facilities for breeding, when required, should be provided to ensure the species breeding habits are catered for and observed at all times. Some species have specialised requirements for breeding; for example, primates of most species are social animals and breed successfully within the social group and the presence of other group members is important for the proper education and socialisation of infants and juveniles. For this reason hand-raising should be avoided except in extreme circumstances. Any hand-raised juvenile should be socialised with members of its own species from the earliest age possible.
A program designed to monitor the health and well being of animals should be implemented and overseen by a veterinarian.
A preventative medicine program should be designed and implemented to protect animals from disease. Sick animals, new arrivals or animals of unknown disease status should be quarantined until shown to be free of contagious disease. Primates in particular are vulnerable to many human diseases and their exposure to people with common complaints such as colds and influenza should be avoided as much as possible.
This is the responsibility of the veterinarian and should be performed at the discretion of the veterinarian in consultation with animal management staff. The preferred method of euthanasia is barbiturate overdose and this method should be used other than in exceptional circumstances.
3.8 Layout and design
When designing a new facility or adding to an existing facility it is important that consideration is given to the overall layout of the park or zoo. The display facilities should be arranged so that the visitor is naturally led from one display to the next.
Environmental enrichment is an important component. This involves providing an environment and adopting management practices that stimulate the animals' natural behaviour, thereby reducing or minimising boredom or stereotypic behaviours. This can include replicating natural landscapes, providing smaller amounts of varied food more often or incorporating other devices such as climbing structures to stimulate activity.
To enhance the educational and conservation objectives of the display, consideration could be given to grouping animals in relation to their biology (eg macropods together, parrots together) or on their ecology (eg Mallee species together, forest species together). Care should be taken when grouping animals to avoid stress by not having predator and prey species displayed in adjacent enclosures or in sight of one another.
Information should be provided on the biology, conservation status and distribution of the animals on display. Where compatible animals are displayed together in a single enclosure, diagrams and illustrations of each species should be provided to enable visitors to identify the specimens on display.
A natural type of enclosure, incorporating growing non-toxic vegetation, provides superior quality of environment for captive animals. All animals should have access to shade at all times of the day. Wherever possible, the layout of enclosures should make maximum use of natural features, particularly vegetation which may be utilised to provide shade for both animals and visitors, or to screen enclosures from one another or to provide natural partitions between display sections.
As is required by legislation (Wildlife Regulations 1992) the park or zoo should have an appropriate perimeter fence that will restrict the entry of unauthorised persons and minimise the risk of animals escaping.
Any walk-through aviary or enclosure should have minimum floor area increased by the width of the pathway, unless the pathway is built one metre or more above ground level of the aviary or enclosure. Public should be restricted to pathways which passes through any aviary or enclosures by permanent barriers or signs.
Enclosures should also be designed so that animals are not adversely affected by visitors.
3.9.1 Static Displays
( See Appendix 1 for enclosure sizes )
Enclosures should be designed, constructed, serviced and maintained in a way that ensures the good health and well being of the animals, whilst preventing escape or injury to humans. Specific details on housing for the various species can be obtained from the Zoological Board of Victoria.
Materials should be selected for ease of maintenance and cleaning, durability, and non-toxicity.
Housing should provide protection from predators, vermin, the weather (wind, rain and sun) and harassment from other animals. Sprinklers may be required for cooling in hot weather.
Enclosures should enable the animals to move freely and engage in a wide range of natural behaviours, including foraging, socialising, climbing, digging, resting and sleeping. Physical barriers, including walls and fences, should be designed and constructed to minimise traumatic injury to animals. Visual barriers should be included in enclosures, allowing animals to avoid each other or to retreat from public viewing.
Additional holding facilities should be available for the separation of animals as required, including the quarantine of new or sick animals or animals of unknown disease status. Cages for these purposes are exempt from the minimum cage sizes in Appendix 1.
A fully enclosed aviary type enclosure is suitable for primates, cats and bears. The mesh of the walls may be supported on metal or timber supports and should be anchored securely into a concrete plinth around the entire periphery. The plinth should contain abundant drainage holes to prevent flooding of the enclosure during rain. Enclosure substrates may be of concrete, or of earth with a covering of sand, woodchips or growing grass. The enclosure height for primates should be tall enough to allow the incorporation of a variety of climbing structures. The minimum height for these enclosures should be 4 metres but taller enclosures are better.
Large cats, those ranging from lion to leopard in size will require 5mm gauge mesh, whilst for small species of ocelot size or less, 3mm gauge is adequate. Mesh size should be too small for cats to reach through. For lions, tigers and cheetahs it is possible to replace the wire ceiling with a 350 splay-in.
Dens should be weatherproof and provide dry comfortable sleeping quarters for the occupants. Dominant animals may need separate dens. Dens for primates should be well lit and ventilated with strong sleeping benches securely fastened to the walls. Apes require two sleeping benches at different heights separated by a vertical wall to provide visual separation in times of stress. Ape dens should measure not less than 9 sq m and should be 3 metres high; baboons, macaques and others of a similar size require not less than 4 sq m., whilst small species require half this area.
These sizes are for a basic group and should be increased by 25% for each additional adult animal. Dens for large primates are best constructed of masonry with sliding animal doors of 5mm steel. Strong timber or similar material may be suitable for smaller species but these materials may be gnawed by some animals. For non-domestic cats, a wooden bench should be provided to allow animals to lie off the concrete floor. Doors into dens should be constructed of steel, which for large cats or apes should be 5mm gauge. Dens should be roomy enough to allow free movement of the occupants and permit the largest animal to lie fully extended. For large cats internal measurements of dens should be not less than 3 x 2.5 metres with a ceiling height of 2.1 metres.
Moated enclosures should be surrounded by a masonry wall or other strong unclimbable barrier and moats must be of the recommended dimensions with a smooth concrete wall on the viewing side. Moated enclosures are suitable for bears, some of the larger primates, lions, tigers and ungulates such as elephants, giraffes and rhinoceros. The size of the moat required for primates and the height of the perimeter fence, which must be smooth and unclimbable, may prove excessively expensive.
Water moats can be a hazard to some primates and drownings are possible. Water in moats should not be allowed to become stagnant or contaminated. Moats for cats must be constructed of concrete and must be deeper and wider than the leaping ability of the species on display and should normally contain water. A vertical wall of the recommended height above water level (see tables in Appendix 1) on the viewing side is essential. Moats for ungulates should slope on the animal side to prevent fatal accidents due to animals falling. Because giraffe are wary of uneven terrain, even shallow moats will restrain them. These should be designed to ensure that an animal will not escape over the moat's outer perimeter. Moats should have a soft floor of soil or sand and be wide enough to enable a fallen giraffe to easily regain its feet without injury.
(b) Specialised Housing Requirements
Axolotls require 20 - 25 cm of water maintained at between 22 – 25oC. They may be kept in glass aquarium containing rock or slate. Most frogs can be kept in glass or perspex fronted aquaria with height being the important dimension for arboreal species. Terrestrial species require a substrate suitable for the species and plants are essential for arboreal species. A shallow pool of water should be provided, but the tank should not become water-logged. Humidity of 60-80% will meet the requirements of most species. Temperature should not exceed 28oC and the heat source should not be close enough to cause overheating or dehydration. Specimens of greatly differing size should not be mixed as smaller ones may be eaten.
Tadpoles can be kept in aquaria, large glass jars or plastic containers until they begin to metamorphose. The water should be clean and as much surface area provided as possible. Protruding rocks or logs should be positioned to help metamorphosing froglets to climb.
Sufficient space should be provided, both horizontally and vertically, to allow reptiles to undertake movement associated with their normal behaviours and to protect reptiles from undue dominance or conflict. Within this guideline, it is important to recognise that cage furniture, eg branches, rock-piles, may increase the enclosure's useable space.
Outdoor exhibits are encouraged where species occur naturally within the geographical location, or similar climatic zone, of the animal display establishment as they provide a natural regime of climatic and seasonal conditions. Outdoor enclosures should be escape-proof and not be dug below ground level unless there is provision of adequate drainage, to avoid the possibility of flooding or muddy conditions following rain. The walls of outdoor enclosures should be constructed of smooth non-climbable barriers and should generally continue into the ground not less than 50cm to prevent escape of the reptiles by burrowing. Shrubs, etc, shall be placed away from walls to prevent escape. Where an outdoor pit enclosure is used to hold snakes or large lizards, the height of the enclosure wall should be not less than 1.5 metres with an inhang of not less than 30cm. Wire mesh should generally be avoided for reptile housing. Some woven meshes and plastic coated products are acceptable in preventing abrasive injury.
Enclosures for crocodilians and aquatic turtles and tortoises (freshwater or marine) should include an appropriate land area to allow for reptiles to bask, dry out totally and, where relevant, walk to a nesting site. The water component should be deep enough for the reptiles to submerge totally and cover an area that allows for free swimming, both horizontally and vertically. Where the reptiles enter or exit the water, the edge of the pool should not be so rough as to abrade their ventral surfaces.
The interior design and landscaping of reptile enclosures should be consistent with the environmental needs of the inhabitants. Basking sites (rocks or logs) should be provided under the heat source for reptiles preferring radiant heat.
Appropriate temperatures and humidity should be maintained for particular reptile species. A heat source should be provided within, or immediately adjacent to, each reptile enclosure sufficient to provide the opportunity to thermoregulate. Heating devices shall be designed and positioned so that parts of the enclosure floor are not heated, thereby providing a range of temperatures. A daytime temperature gradient 22-30oC would accommodate thermal requirements for the majority of species. Where tropical species of turtles and crocodilians are displayed, water temperature should be 24-28oC. A range of 22-26oC is suitable for such temperate species.
Diurnal desert species of reptiles require a relative humidity of 50%, while 50-70% relative humidity is suitable for most coastal and mountain species. Snake species found in humid tropical environments require a relative humidity greater than 80%. Tropical reptile species require humidity and foliage. Where live plants are used to decorate the exhibit, care must be taken to ensure that the relative humidity does not become excessively high. Artificial substitutes may be used as an alternative.
Photoperiod and access to direct sunlight are important factors in the control of activity, reproduction and other physiological processes. Reptiles housed indoors will require a photoperiod that replicates the natural environment. Light bulbs used for heating should be coloured red or blue so that the reptile has a dark period during the night. Many lizards, young turtles and crocodiles and some snakes have particular ultraviolet light requirements to ensure proper growth and metabolic functioning. Experienced herpetologists should be contacted for these details.
Raptors - Public walkthrough raptor enclosures should be of a design that utilises the longest dimension to allow the greatest distance between the public and the birds. Public walkthrough raptor enclosures should only be used with species known not to be potentially dangerous or have nervous temperaments. Off-display facilities may require smaller enclosure sizes for specific purposes such as captive breeding, quarantine and rehabilitation. The enclosure should allow for appropriate flight paths and sufficient numbers and variety of perches should be supplied and positioned to accommodate different preferences of individual birds and to avoid diseases of the feet.
Waterfowl - In the design of any aviary or enclosure the minimum length of the shortest side should be not less than 3 metres, and should include a pond of the dimensions described in this code. At least 50% of aviary or enclosure should be constructed from open weave mesh. The minimum height of any unroofed enclosure perimeter fence should not be less than 1.1 metres high, except for brolgas which should be a minimum of 2 metres.
The total water surface area of any pond in a waterfowl aviary or enclosure will be described as a minimum percentage of total floor area, (eg aviary minimum floor area 75 sq metres, pond size is 26 sq metres, ie 35% of floor area). Total water surface area should be increased at the same rate as minimum floor area increases when numbers of birds in aviary or enclosure are increased. When an enclosure has a pond with a surface area of 100 square metres, the requirement for a percentage of floor area will not apply. Ponds should be designed to suit habitat requirements of all species held in an aviary or enclosure and pond design should allow easy access into and out of water for all species.
Any pond which has a permanent or floating island should have the minimum water surface area increased by the size of the island. Fringes of ponds should include adequate natural habitat for sheltering, roosting or nesting for all species in aviary or enclosure.
Primates- Primates should always be kept as a social group and must have accommodation which will permit healthy physical activity, social interactions and prevent boredom. Marmosets and Tamarins like to sleep within a nest box which should be designed to comfortably accommodate the entire family. The box should be secured in an elevated position in a warm sheltered situation. It will require periodic cleaning and should be designed accordingly. Preferred temperature of sleeping quarters is between 20 and 25oC and heating may be required in winter.
Non-domestic Cats - Social animals, for example Lion and Cheetah, should not be kept as single animals. Cats, particularly Tigers and Jaguars, are fond of bathing, and a pool large enough to permit this activity should be considered.
Ungulates- The non-domestic species of hoofed stock available in Australia generally have similar requirements to their domestic cousins. All are grazing or browsing animals and are normally kept free range in grassed paddocks. Species native to Europe and North America are hardy and require little shelter other than wind breaks and shade. However tropical species, such as Axis Deer and Banteng Cattle, are sensitive to cold and losses, especially of young animals, may occur in the absence of adequate shelter.
Attention must be paid to fence height and type to prevent escapes and exclude predators. Management must avoid methods which cause undue stress or which may cause nervous animals to collide with fences. Most deer species are forest or woodland animals and may be excessively nervous in enclosures without cover, and newborn animals may succumb to heat or cold in open paddocks.
Elephants should be provided with as much enclosure complexity as possible, including a pool for bathing, a mud wallow and tree trunks for rubbing. Frequent provision of fresh tree branches, bamboo and similar browse material will keep the animals busy and avoid undesirable behaviour patterns. Elephants are sociable and should not be kept as solitary individuals. Elephants require secure lock-away night quarters which are dry and windproof, measuring 40 sq. metres for two animals and increased by 50% for each additional animal. Special attention must be paid to the operation and strength of lock-away facilities if a bull elephant is kept, and the height for restraint barriers should be increased.
Giraffe are not well adapted to negotiating rough terrain, and enclosure surfaces should be level and relatively smooth, of a firm and stable nature and sufficiently abrasive to keep hooves in good conditions. Giraffe do not like cold winds and may suffer significant loss of condition in cold weather unless adequate dry, windproof shelter is provided. Fences for giraffe may be constructed of a range of materials but must be robust enough to withstand a giraffe leaning on them whilst reaching over. Captive animals should be supplied with fresh branches daily, not only as food, but also to keep them occupied.
Restraint barriers for rhinoceros may be constructed of concrete, steel or heavy timber with the latter being the most suitable as rhinoceros will severely abrade their horns on concrete and steel structures. Secure lock-away facilities should be provided which should be dry and wind-proof, and include the means to separate animals from each other. Rhinoceros require shade and appreciate sun, a mud wallow and tree trunks for rubbing.
Most of the enclosure for Nile Hippopotamus should consist of water deep enough for the animals to totally submerge as their skin will dry and crack if kept away from water for extended periods. Hippopotamus defecate in their pools, which unless very large, will require regular draining and cleaning. Nile Hippopotamus are sociable however the introduction of an unfamiliar animal usually results in fighting which may cause injury or death.
The Pygmy Hippopotamus is much smaller than the previous species and is solitary. Pairs can usually only be kept together for a few days when the female is receptive. They are more cold-sensitive than Nile Hippopotamus and neonates require heating if born in winter.
Non-domestic Canids - Canids are social animals and should not be kept as solitary individuals. Fence heights should be adequate and may require an overhang. Foxes, in particular, have excellent climbing abilities and will climb mesh fences. Wild canids may be fed as domestic dogs but should be provided with carcases or large bones at least once a week to ensure dental health. Enclosures must prevent escape by leaping, climbing or digging and should provide a high quality complex environment, preferably modelled upon natural habitat.
Bears -Bears are powerful and able to dig, swim and climb. The design of enclosures must take these factors into consideration whilst also providing environmental complexity and novelty. Enclosures should include climbing structures in the form of large, inclined tree trunks and rocks, pools for bathing and a substrate of loose material such as leaf-litter or wood-chips in which to forage. Seeds, raisins and other small food items should be scattered frequently, encouraging foraging behaviour. Enclosures should be designed so that bears can see out. Bears may be kept in large open enclosures surrounded by unclimbable mesh and sheet material fences extending at least one metre underground. Such enclosures can contain trees and other vegetation, providing a semi-natural environment. Adequate shade and water for bathing should be provided. Secure lock-away facilities are essential to all enclosures.
Platypus- Platypus require an aquatic tank of a minimum length of six metres, minimum width of one metre and a minimum depth of 800 millimetres for a maximum of two animals. It is preferable that a second tank of similar size is provided as an off - display feeding tank. Facilities should be insulated from electric currents, excessive noise and vibration. Water temperature and ambient air temperature should be in the range of 15-25oC and should never exceed 30oC. The tank should have a selection of protected feeding and land based grooming sites provided in secure locations. Nest boxes should be at least 300mm high, 450mm wide and 700mm long with approximately 75% of the box filled with nesting material. Tunnels linking nest boxes to tank should be approximately 70mm high and 100 mm wide and construction materials should be non abrasive and weather proof. Chemical agents should not be used in cleaning and tank water should be filtered at the rate of one complete water change every six hours.
3.9.2 Mobile Displays
Due to the nature of mobile displays it is not possible for the animals to be displayed in enclosures that comply with the size requirements for permanent or fixed displays. However it is important that display enclosures do not compromise the welfare of the animals being held. With the exception of Part 3.8 - Layout and Design, mobile displays should conform to the general requirements of this code of practice.
Mobile display enclosures should ensure the safety and well being of both the public and the animals. Enclosures should be of solid construction and sufficiently secure to minimise the risk of escape or the accidental or deliberate release of the animal by unauthorised persons. Mobile display cages should be constructed of materials of suitable strength and durability to contain the animals which will be displayed in them. Materials should be non-toxic and the enclosures should be easily cleaned and maintained.
Mobile display cages should provide refuge areas to allow animals to retreat from the public or other animals in the enclosures. Any animals on display which begin to show signs of stress should be removed from display immediately and allowed to recover. Enclosures should provide adequate shelter from sun, wind, rain and extremes of temperature for all animals contained in the cage. Animals should be maintained at temperatures suitable to ensure their well being. Birds should be housed in cages that conform to the Code of Practice for the Housing of Caged Birds.
(a) Short Term Mobile Displays
These are displays of less than one day in duration and display enclosures should provide adequate space for the animal to move about, sit, perch or lie down. Animals should be held in display cages for the minimum time possible and if animals are held for periods longer than two hours, they should have access to clear, cool water. Adequate quantities of appropriate food should be available if the period exceeds four hours.
(b) Long Term Mobile Displays (eg Circuses)
(See Appendix 2).
Display enclosures may include demountable or extendable ground level enclosures and should be sufficiently secure to minimise the chance of escape of the animal or its accidental or deliberate release. These enclosures will need to be able to be disassembled because of the mobile nature of the display. A security fence, capable of separating the public from the animals, should be installed and the enclosure should be designed to protect the public from injury due to attack by the animals. Enclosures, whether static or mobile, need to provide proper shelter for the animals. The interior should be well ventilated with roofing that is weatherproof and will provide shade. When the display is mobile, the supporting structure should be designed so that there will be no rupture or major deformation in the event of a collision or rollover.
Where possible, ungulates should not be tethered but should be contained with fences. Where electric fencing is used to confine ungulates, appropriate signs should be erected on the security fence warning the public. It is desirable that all ungulates of the same species be confined in the same enclosure unless aggression or intimidation takes place. If elephants, horses, donkeys or camels have an area of less than 0.25 hectare per animal, the animals should be walked at least one kilometre a day.
Enclosures for non-domestic cats should contain elevated secure platforms for resting and wooden scratching poles. Leopards and Panthers require climbing structure with at least one fork for an animal to rest in. Separate feeding areas are required for both cats and bears. Primate enclosures should contain secure climbing structures.
Animals of similar or different species may mix in the display enclosures provided that there is no evidence of aggression or intimidation and providing that the enclosure has sufficient minimum floor space for each animal in the enclosure.
Animals should be provided with a minimum of two training sessions per day (including showtimes), each lasting one hour to allow exercise and prevent boredom. The use of sharp spurs, spurs with fixed rowels or electric prods is not permitted at any time. Rods and elephant goads should be blunt and animals should never be struck with whips, rods or other devices unless the safety of humans is under direct threat.
Animals involved in long term mobile displays should be transported in cages that conform to requirements of IATA 1989 Container Requirement 11. During transportation, a stopover should be made every two hours to inspect the animals. Water and food should be provided every four hours. On arrival at a venue, the animals should be released into the display enclosures as soon as possible (See Appendix 2 for enclosure sizes).
Clean cool water should be available at all times in display enclosures.
4 Handling and restraints
Animals should be captured, handled and restrained in a way which minimises stress and prevents injury to the animal. Native animals should not be tethered and forcible restraint should be minimised.
Enclosures for the transportation of animals should be designed to ensure the security and well being of the animals. Enclosures should comply with IATA 1989 Container Regulation 11, that is, be of sufficient size to allow the animal to stand or lie down as required but should not be so large as to allow the animal excessive movement, hence risking injury. Birds should be transported in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Practice for the Housing of Caged Birds.
Transport cages should provide adequate ventilation for the animals inside and should be protected from sun, wind, rain and extremes of temperature during transit. Animals should not be placed in transport enclosures more than two hours prior to departure and transport times should be kept to a minimum.
Transport enclosures should be constructed of appropriate, non-toxic materials.
Animals should be in a fit state before being transported. Sick or injured animals should not be transported except for veterinary care and precautions should be taken to minimise further stress or injury.
The comfort and general well-being of animal should be monitored every two hours during transport.
Consignments should be accompanied by written documentation clearly identifying all animals being transported and their individual requirements. Provisions of the Wildlife Regulations 1992 should be observed for native wildlife.
No reptile should be transported unless it has been maintained for a sufficient time prior to departure at a temperature which will ensure complete digestion of any undigested food. All reptiles should be placed in shallow tepid water for a sufficient time prior to departure to prevent dehydration and assist in the reptile passing faecal material.
Containers should be designed to meet the needs of the animals being transported. Animals should be transported in containers of strong, easily cleaned and disinfected weather proof materials, and should be adequately ventilated.
Containers should be cleaned and disinfected prior to use and all residues thoroughly washed off.
For transport of long duration (more than 4 hours) and during periods of excessive heat (air temperature greater than 25 degrees centigrade) appropriate spill-proof water containers should be provided.
Containers for reptiles should be made of materials that will minimise any temperature fluctuations. Snakes should be transported in an escape-proof, strong, double-stitched, durable, porous linen bag which is enclosed in a sufficiently ventilated rigid container. Any empty space should be padded to prevent excessive movement within the container. Specimens of different species or size should not be transported in a single bag. Bagged venomous snakes should be separated from all other transported animals, preferably by solid partitions in the box.
Containers for frogs should include damp moss or small pieces of damp sponge to prevent dehydration during transportation.
It is important that the operator of any animal display keep accurate and up to date records relating to the stock in his or her possession. Such records are of importance in both maintaining the health of the animals and planning of breeding programs.
Persons authorised to hold and display animals under the provisions of the Wildlife Act 1975 are required by legislation to maintain a record book and submit returns. The legislation requires the licensee to record, for each species, details such as acquisitions or disposals, births, deaths and so on. The specific requirements are listed in the Wildlife Regulations 1992.
However, it is important that the operator of the display maintain detailed records of other matters not covered by legislation. These can be divided into two main areas: breeding records and treatment of sickness or injury. These are discussed below in more detail.
To facilitate the keeping of accurate records, the operator of a display should consider permanent identification of all animals, for example tattoos, electronic microchips, ear tags, legbands, etc. Marking should be non-intrusive and should not compromise the welfare of the animal.
6.2 Breeding records
The health and vigour of any population of a species on display in a facility is dependent in part upon those animals having a diverse genetic background. Interbreeding in a limited population may decrease this vigour and lead to physical or behavioural problems, resulting in an animal being unfit for display. It is important that the operator of a display maintain detailed records of breeding and parentage in order to minimise inbreeding. Such records will assist the operator in assessing the need to exchange individuals of the same species with other displays in order to maintain an adequately diverse genetic base in all stock on display.
The maintenance of such records is essential in the case of display and captive breeding of threatened species or species which are rare in captivity. Such programs may be coordinated by the Zoological Board of Victoria and the Board may impose specific requirements in relation to recording.
6.3 Treatment records
The compilation and maintenance of accurate records of diagnosis, treatment and response of the animal is required for the successful treatment and care of sick or injured animals. These records will provide a means to monitor treatment and recovery of an animal and will provide valuable case history data for the future assessment and treatment of stock. Records should be used as an adjunct to veterinary treatment, not as a substitute.
Records of treatment should include the following information:
- Species, sex and age (if known) of the animal being treated;
- Details of the animal's identification (eg. tag number, tattoo number, etc);
- Details of the nature of the illness or injury;
- Details of veterinary diagnosis and recommended treatment, including surgery and medication;
- Details of care and rehabilitation processes;
- Outcome of the treatment;
- Post mortem results.
Other relevant data should also be noted in relation to individual stock as required by the operator.
Approved by the Governor in Council 31May, 1994
Printed in the Victorian Government Gazette 15 December 1994;
Erratum printed in Victorian Government Gazette 12 January 1995
Appendix 1 - Recommended enclosure/cage sizes for static displays
(1) Native animals
(Only compatible animals may be multiple housed)
Type of animal
|Minimum floor area (sq metres)||Maximum no. of animals||Minimum height (metres)||Increased floor area for each additional animal (sq metres)|
Hopping Mice, Dunnarts
Small Quolls, Tuans
All Possums , Sugar and Squirrel Gliders,
Yellow Bellied and Greater Gliders
Potaroos, Bettongs, Tiger Quolls
Brush Turkeys, Mallee Fowl
Wallabies less than 10kg
Wallabies greater than 10kg / Pademelons
Note: * denotes roofed enclosures.
- height for Hopping Mice, Dunnarts, Antechinus and Kowaris is above substrate.
- Bettong males should not be housed together.
- Wombats prefer to be solitary in permanent confinement.
- Pademelons require dense cover.
- ample mulch, leaf litter and loose soil is required for megapodes. Brush Turkeys should be able to perch a minimum of 1.5 metres above ground.
|Minimum eclosure size (SQ metres)||Minimum fence height|
|Water depth (metres)||Basic group (Adults)|
These sizes are for a basic group (or less) of adult animals.
Enclosure size should be increased by 25% for each additional adult animal above basic group number.
* Applies to moated enclosures.
(3) Non Domestic Cats –
|Minimum enclosure size|
|Mesh wire diameter (mm)||Overhang width|
These sizes are for up to 2 adult animals. For social species (Lion, Cheetah) enclosure size should be increased by 25% for each additional adult animal.
Fence height is from ground level to the highest point of the overhang (where applicable)
|Dry Moat Depth|
|Wet Moat Depth|
|Wall Above Water|
Dry moats must include the same size overhang as fences.
Wet moats do not require overhangs.
(4) Wild Canids
Cape hunting dog
These enclosure sizes are adequate for two adult animals (plus dependent young). For pack species (Wolf, Cape Hunting-dog) the area should be increased by 25% for each additional adult animal.
(5) Large Ungulates
Bear (Polar, Brown)
These enclosure sizes are adequate for up to two animals, and should be increased by 25% for each additional adult animal. These areas do not include lock-away facilities.
(7) Water Birds
|No. of birds||Minimum height (meters)|
For fully enclosed aviaries
|Pond size as % of total floor area||Increase area of floor and pond in sq meters for each additional bird|
GROUP 1- 10-30 cm birds
GROUP 2- 35-50 cm birds
GROUP 3- 55-70 cm birds
GROUP 4- 75-95 cm birds
GROUP 5 - 100-165 cm
GROUP 6- 100-160 cm
Note: The requirement for pond size to be percentage of total floor area does not apply if the pond size exceeds 100 square metres.
(8) Raptors and other carnivorous birds (Only compatible birds may be multiple housed)
Cage sizes are for two birds
|Minimum floor area|
|Minimum width (meters)||Minimum height (meters)||Increased floor area for each additional bird (square meter)|
Barn Owl, Boobook, Grass Owl, Nankeen
Sooty Owl, Masked Owl, Barking Owl, Rufous Owl.
Powerful Owl, Australian Hobby, Swamp Harrier, Spotted Harrier, Little Eagle, Whistling Kite, Brahminy Kite, Square-tailed Kite, Black Kite.
Brown Falcon, Grey Falcon, Black Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Red Goshawk, Grey Goshawk, Brown Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, Osprey.
Wedge-tailed Eagle, White-breasted Sea Eagle.
The Code of Practice for the Housing of Caged Birds details cage construction, and permit holders should be conversant with this Code.
In the design of any birdcage, the ratio between the lengths of the two longest straight lines which can be described on the floor of the cage and at right angles to each other shall not exceed 4:1 unless the shorter of those two lines is at least 900mm long. The length of this line should be at least twice the span of the wings of the largest bird to be kept in the cage.
Size of Bird
|Minimum Floor Area|
|Number of Birds||Minimum Height|
|Increased Floor Area for each additional bird|
Indoor cage dimensions
100mm (10cm)- eg. Zebra Finches
500mm (50cm) - eg Sulphur Crested Cockatoos
Outdoor cage dimensions
100mm (10cm) - eg. Zebra Finches
500mm (50cm) - eg Sulphur Crested Cockatoos
Cages with a floor area exceeding 20,000 sq cm must be a minimum height of 150 cm and allow access for physical entry. The minimum length and width of any cage should be at least twice the length of the largest bird in the cage.
Appendix 2 - Display cages for long term mobile displays (eg. circuses)
|Minimum floor space for one animal|
|Increased floor space for each additional animal|
Small Primates (Macaque sized monkeys)
Horses, Donkeys, Camels
The advice provided in this publication is intended as a source of information only. Always read the label before using any of the products mentioned. The State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.