Draft Husbandry Guidelines for true seals (Phocidae).
For Review by the EAZA Marine Mammal TAG
Within EAZA the need to improve the standards in zoos was the reason to start writing Husbandry Guidelines. Husbandry Guidelines are housing and care guidelines with the objective to guarantee optimal conditions for welfare and reproduction of captive animal populations. They have to fulfil the need for co-operation and information exchange between EAZA zoos and to improve husbandry knowledge. The marine mammal TAG is responsible for writing the guidelines for marine mammals, in this case the true seals. The goal of this study is to design Husbandry Guidelines for keeping true seals in captivity, by giving an overview of all aspects concerning the responsible husbandry and care of true seals. To accomplice this objective the following research question had to be answered: How to guarantee the optimal conditions for welfare and reproduction of true seals in EAZA zoos?
This draft version of Husbandry Guidelines for captive true seals is compiled by studying the biology and field data, as well as the management in captivity of true seals. The current situation is described, literature research is performed, important subjects are determined, experts are consulted and finally all these data are compiled into a draft version Husbandry Guidelines for true seals. The structure of the Husbandry Guidelines is set up according to the standard table of contents assessed by EAZA, and the draft version Husbandry Guidelines for eared seals by Osinga/ De Wit (2002). This draft version has to be reviewed by experts in the Marine Mammal TAG before it becomes a final version of Husbandry Guidelines for true seals.
The Husbandry Guidelines are divided in two parts in which both the data of animals in the wild and the management in captivity are described. In section A information is given on the biology and field data of true seals. Special attention was paid to the species that are kept in EAZA zoos now. In section B all aspects concerning management in captivity are described.
Most information is based on experiences and not on scientific knowledge. Additional research is necessary to improve the quality of these Husbandry Guidelines.