Male and female lions side by side Male and female lions on a rock
Upholding Animals First Culture

Our Commitments to the Five Opportunities to Thrive

Opportunity For A Well-Balanced Diet

In order to ensure the opportunity for a well-balanced diet, we

  • provide quality, hygienic food and water of the highest standards
  • provide the full and necessary dietary and nutritional requirements for every animal in our care with special attention to individual needs and circumstances
  • present food and water in ways that satisfy both behavioral and health needs
  • incorporate the science of nutrition into the development of all zoo diets under the supervision of a nutritionist and/or veterinarian
  • maintain accurate records on the diets provided and the weight of individual animals
  • provide staff with on-the-job training on safe, hygienic food storage, handling and preparation
  • share the knowledge we gained about zoo and aquatic animal nutrition
  • continually monitor our animals to assure that food is fed in the manner prescribed


Cownose sting ray 


Opportunity To Self-Maintain

In order to ensure the opportunity to self-maintain, we

  • provide protection from the elements, intruders, pests, predators, physical injury and disease
  • provide comfortable resting places and thermal comfort
  • employ secure, effective and well-maintained barriers
  • minimize exposure to fear, distress and aggression
  • provide seek sanctuary from enclosure-mates and visitors
  • design habitats, including water quality, that can be readily maintained at appropriate hygiene standards as required
  • present our animals with dignity in a setting that provides effective learning experiences for visitors
  • provide clear and simple, anonymous and named methods to identify and report shortcomings/concerns in our animal care programs


King penguins doing a courtship bow 


Opportunity For Optimal Health

In order to ensure the opportunity for optimal health, we aim to

  • deliver a comprehensive veterinary care program with the resources and capacity for high quality medicine, surgery, diagnostics and pathology
  • maintain our role as a global leader in zoo and wildlife health care
  • provide reward-based conditioning to facilitate delivery of health care, guest encounters and presentations
  • ensure that systems and knowledge on the status, health and wellbeing of all our animals are maintained and continually improved
  • regularly monitor each individual, as appropriate for that species
  • provide prompt veterinary response to any injured or ill animal in our care
  • provide preventative health care programs, including effective quarantine for all incoming animals and minimizing disease incursion from staff, visitors and free-ranging animals
  • ensure that wildlife responses and rehabilitation practices are ethically sound, ecologically responsible, and in accordance with state and federal regulatory agreements
  • ensure staff awareness and understanding of SEA's policies, procedures and reporting processes, and training relating to animal health
  • maintain the highest professional standards of our zoological staff
  • ensure that humane euthanasia can be implemented where appropriate


Sea otter in ferns 


Opportunity To Express Species-Specific Behavior

In order to ensure the opportunity to express species-specific behavior, we

  • provide housing that is of generous size to move, perform species appropriate behaviors and exercise freely
  • provide tailored wellness evaluations to individual animals and populations that recognize the species' evolutionary biology
  • provide a life experience for each animal that approximates the quality of a life experienced by an equivalent member of that species living in the wild, including challenges where appropriate
  • provide alternatives for behaviors that would be performed in the wild
  • provide species-appropriate enrichment
  • incorporate providing enrichment in our zoological team members' job description
  • provide environments and group structure and size that promote species appropriate social skills and supports the ability of an animal to breed or be integrated with its own kind
  • provide species-appropriate social opportunities, including opportunities for learning and maintenance of behaviors critical for social interactions and breeding
  • provide social opportunities with compatible individuals and species for sole representatives of a given species


Mother and baby hippos 


Opportunities For Choice And Control

In order to ensure the opportunities for choice and control, we

  • design new habitat features that provides choice and opportunities
  • provide enrichment items that are safe to use and do not compromise the animals' nutrition
  • undertake appropriate research, training and planning, and provide resources to support safe and effective environmental enrichment programs
  • conduct enrichment that stimulates mental and physical activity, promotes group and play behaviors, and maintains behavioral diversity
  • regularly review and change the enrichment programs appropriate for the species, to maximize stimulation, variation, interest and learning
  • regularly share best behavioral, enrichment and choice and control practices within enrichment committees with parks
  • regularly share best behavioral, enrichment and choice and control practices between parks


Polar bear swimming 


More Resources

If you would like to learn more about the topic of zoo and aquarium animal welfare, we recommend the following resources:


Group of killer whales swimming together