If animals could talk, they would probably tell you how great it is to live at the Ipswich Nature Centre.
Animal welfare is a top priority at the Ipswich Nature Centre, which has been recognised for its commitment to positive animal welfare as part of a world-leading accreditation program that assesses welfare in zoos and aquariums.
The Zoo and Aquarium Association conducted onsite assessments under its Accreditation 2020 Program and the Ipswich Nature Centre has achieved accreditation which is valid for three years.
The program has a progressive, science-based approach to animal welfare and has been designed using the Five Domains model, developed by leading animal welfare scientist Professor David Mellor, the Animal Welfare and Bioethics Centre (Massey University) foundation director.
The Zoo and Aquarium Association executive director Nicola Craddock said the program represents the collective voice of the zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks across Australasia that operate to the highest standards.
“It requires the animal care professionals to use their unique knowledge of both the species and the individuals to assess how that particular animal is affected by its situation,” Ms Craddock said.
“This approach champions welfare from the animal’s perspective.”
Animals are assessed on a range of criteria for not only negative experiences, but also for positive ones.
Ipswich Nature Centre Senior Zoologist Nicole Richards said this raises the bar for animal keepers.
“By being assessed on positive experiences as well, it requires us to develop deeper understanding and practices of each animal we care for, that go beyond the basics of keeping the animals fed and free from distress,” she said.
“For example our Wombat Milly was assessed on the five domains of nutrition, environment, health, behaviour and mental state.
“We know that she is a very active wombat and so we provide her with a large environment with a burrow, scratching posts, and different digging materials such as sand or decomposed granite.
“She also has varied food experiences, we sometimes hide food in a wheelie bin full of leaf litter for her to dig through or we place her favourite native grasses in a huge tractor tyre for her.
“Her mental state is also managed by giving her lots of enrichment. Her favourite thing is her gym ball. She gets very excited when she first hears the bounce that means playtime. She will play with it for ages, then she will rest on it.”
When visiting the Ipswich Nature Centre next, listen to the birds chirping in the aviary, the dingos yapping in their den, or the wombat hissing in her burrow, and be assured they are healthy, happy and content.
Ipswich Nature Centre at Queens Park is open seven days a week during the school holidays from 9.30am to 4pm.