Japan zoo survey aims to promote animal welfare

NHK has learned the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or JAZA, plans to launch a survey to improve conditions at zoos and other facilities.

The survey will start at 10 facilities this year. Ueno Zoological Gardens and Tama Zoological Park, both in Tokyo, as well as Osaka Tennoji Zoo are among them.

The survey will cover about 90 points, including whether animals' living spaces are large enough for them to move around as they would in natural environments, and if there are any obstacles that could cause injury.

Another point is whether each facility has a system to record and manage animal nutrition and health.

Zoos around the world have been placing more importance on animal welfare. Ueno Zoological Gardens has recreated a forest from China's Sichuan Province for its giant pandas.

Stricter animal welfare rules are making it difficult for zoos to import rare species, as more scrutiny falls on how they keep their animals.

JAZA says that many zoos have been just showing animals to entertain people, but they are also required to help preserve species. The association says it will try to create an environment in which animals can live comfortably.

JAZA is made up of about 140 zoos and aquariums around Japan.