Scientific Seminar

2007 How much space does an elephant need? The impact of confinement on animal welfare.

Tuesday 27 February 2007, Australian War Memorial, Canberra 

As the context and purpose of confinement changes, so does our perception of what is an ‘appropriate' space and what is provided for the animals within it. These perceptions influence our decision making in setting minimum standards for the confinement and housing of animals in different contexts, including:

  • Intensive and extensively farmed animals
  • Animals used for research and teaching
  • Companion animals
  • Animals used for sport, entertainment, work or display
  • Captive wild animals

Speakers at the Seminar examined recent national and international research on the impact of confinement on animals, and the factors that influence our perception of what is an ‘appropriate' housing environment. The seminar also examined those factors that affect the amount of space and type of physical environment that an animal needs, such as its social behaviour, dietary requirements, physiology, temperament and genetics.

Current thinking dictates that animal welfare standards should be science based, but this assumes that there is sufficient research in a given area to provide us with useful answers. The seminar aimed to identify gaps in our knowledge of the impact of confinement, and provide some direction for future research. It also looked at processes that are used to determine the quality and size of housing environments and to set minimum standards, particularly where relevant scientific information is lacking.



Previous Scientific Seminars

2006 The Five Freedoms and beyond: improving welfare of production animals.

2005 Cruelty to animals: a human problem.

2004 Welfare underwater - issues with aquatic animals.

2003 Solutions for achieving humane vertebrate pest control.

2002 Equine welfare: balancing tradition and science.

2001 Pets or pests? The future of companion animal ownership.

2000 Animal welfare in the new millennium: towards a national approach.

1999 Scientific evidence and improvements in animal welfare: are we ignoring the obvious?