Home / Newsroom / Brookfield Zoo and Shedd Aquarium are Nation’s First Facilities to Achieve Humane Certification from American Humane

Brookfield Zoo and Shedd Aquarium are Nation’s First Facilities to Achieve Humane Certification from American Humane

American Humane's new Humane Conservation™ initiative is world’s first certification program solely dedicated to helping ensure welfare, humane treatment of remarkable, endangered and disappearing animals living in human care

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, June 14, 2016 — American Humane is pleased to announce that two local institutions – Brookfield Zoo and Shedd Aquarium – are among the first zoos and aquariums internationally, and the first two in the United States, to achieve humane certification for the treatment of their animals through the world’s first program dedicated solely to helping ensure the welfare and humane treatment of the remarkable, endangered and disappearing animals living in the world’s zoos and aquariums.

With only 2.3 percent of the world’s zoos and aquariums holding an accreditation status, and none certified solely on the evaluation of animal welfare standards, there is a need for the public to know which ones are excelling and which are not. These two world-renowned institutions are among the first four to pass American Humane’s rigorous, third-party Humane Conservation™ animal welfare audit and earn the “Humane Certified™” seal.

“We applaud these organizations for their excellent work and stewardship of the magnificent animals in their care,” said Dr. Kwane Stewart, chief veterinary officer for the American Humane Humane Conservation program. “These world-class facilities both stepped forward voluntarily to undergo our comprehensive, science-based auditing and have served as leaders in the field, demonstrating to the public their commitment to providing a high degree of welfare to the animals with whom they work.”

Stewart added that gaining the ‘Humane Certified’ seal is an important validation of their efforts by a program that has been endorsed by many of the world’s leading animal welfare scientists, veterinarians, animal advocates, and ethicists.

“As disappearing habitats and other human-induced pressures threaten species in the wild, the care we provide to the animals at Brookfield Zoo becomes of critical importance,” said Stuart D. Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “We have a responsibility to not only maintain the health and well-being of the animals in our care but to utilize our teaching hospital and scientific research programs to explore innovative, cutting-edge techniques to address animal welfare questions. Our published findings contribute to the sustainability of wildlife populations and are used to engage our 2.2 million guests and 120,000 member families in the practice of caring for animals. We are honored to be recognized with this American Humane certification as it validates our commitment to advancing the science of animal-directed care.”

“We have a strong obligation and responsibility to achieve the highest standards of animal welfare possible for the privilege of having these species in our care as part of our conservation research and education initiatives,” said Bridget Coughlin, Ph.D., president and CEO of Shedd Aquarium. “We are dedicated to having an ongoing commitment to animal welfare as the highest priority in all operations. Shedd’s facilities and practices provide environments for our animals where their physical, mental and behavioral needs come first. This credential is one more demonstration of Shedd’s unwavering commitment to the welfare of those in our care.”

In the face of what scientists are calling a “Sixth Extinction” with species disappearing at a rate 8-100 times higher than expected since 1900, zoos and aquariums are playing an outsized role in preserving the vital web of life on Earth. Serving as arks of hope for endangered animals and powerful ambassadors for conservation, these institutions are drawing more visitors each year than all sporting events combined. As the public becomes increasingly aware of and invested in the fate of the world’s creatures, more and more are rightly demanding that the millions of creatures who live in zoos, aquariums and conservation centers are afforded good treatment and welfare.

To help achieve this, American Humane, which has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in the protection of animals over the past 140 years, has developed the first-ever independent, scientific and evidence-based third-party humane certification program focusing solely on the well-being of the animals living in these institutions. The program’s comprehensive standards were created by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee made up of the most well-respected, iconic names in animal welfare, animal ethics, and the conservation community, and cover over 30 areas, including health, housing, social interactions, space, humane interactions, environmental quality, physiology, sound levels, treatment protocols, activity levels of the animals and more.

Adding to the rigor of the program, the implementation of the required standards is verified by independent auditors.

“We believe all animals – those in our homes, those on our farms and ranches, and those being preserved and cared for in our zoos, aquariums, and conservation parks – are entitled to humane treatment,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “This new Humane Conservation program will serve to help ensure the welfare of millions of animals and help the public to distinguish those institutions that are doing a good job from those that are not and either need to elevate the quality of their programs or shut their doors.”

New Paper Released on Role of Zoos and Aquariums and Need for Humane Certification

The vital role played by today’s zoos and aquariums, and the necessity for a program that helps ensure the welfare of the animals they serve is outlined in a major new White Paper entitled, “ Arks of Hope, Ambassadors for Animals: The Pivotal Position of Zoos and Aquariums and Next Steps in Ensuring the Welfare of Animals in Human Care, ” which was released today by American Humane during the launch of the new Humane Conservation program on Capitol Hill.

“The impact and bond formed between people seeing and experiencing real animals is unparalleled, helping create new generations of animal advocates, and others who understand that our unique, interconnectedness is mutually beneficial to people, animals and the world we share,” said Dr. Ganzert. “We have a moral obligation to protect these magnificent animals, and zoos and aquariums are vital ambassadors for this effort. People won’t protect what they don’t love. And they can’t love what they don’t know. This new Humane Conservation program will help ensure not only that the animals in the world’s zoos and aquariums are well-cared-for, but that new generations of animal lovers are cultivated and dedicated to the preservation of the many remarkable creatures with whom we share the Earth.”

Our first-responders are there when animals need them most

From natural disasters to animal cruelty investigations, we are on the front lines protecting animals in times of crisis.

Contribute Volunteer