Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre Among The First In The World To Achieve Humane Certification From American Humane Association American Humane Association'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

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2016 /CNW/ -- American Humane Association is pleased to announced that the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is one of the first institutions in the world – and the first in Canada – 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 zoos and aquariums worldwide being accredited and none certified solely for animal welfare, there is a need for the public to know which are excelling and which are not. This world-renowned institution is among the first four to pass American Humane Association's rigorous, third-party Humane Conservation™ program's animal welfare audit and earn the "Humane Certified™" seal.

"We applaud Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre for the excellent work for and stewardship of the magnificent animals in their care," said Dr. Kwane Stewart, chief veterinary officer for the American Humane Association Humane Conservation program. "This world-class aquarium stepped forward voluntarily to undergo our comprehensive, science-based auditing and is serving as a leader in the field, demonstrating to the public its commitment to providing a high degree of welfare to the animals with it works. 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."

"Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre has a culture of excellence in animal care and conservation and we are proud to step forward as the first organization to voluntarily participate in the world-class Humane Conservation Certification established by the American Humane Association," says Dr. John Nightingale, president and CEO, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. "The independent, scientific and evidence-based certification program is among the world's most stringent and those who participate uphold the highest animal welfare standards, a commitment we've made to animal care now for six decades."     

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. And as people become 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 be afforded good treatment and welfare.

To help achieve this, American Humane Association, 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 everything from good health to good housing, good feeding, good management, appropriate behaviors, including the display of natural behaviors at the individual and group levels, the lack of abnormal behaviors at the individual and group levels, social interactions between animals and the ability to self-separate, positive, healthy and humane interactions between animals and handlers, physiology, activity levels, use of space, disease and mortality, meeting of federal and state regulations, thermoregulation, lighting/shade needs, environmental quality issues, staff knowledge and training, veterinary, operational procedures, animal husbandry procedures, environmental enrichments, choices and options for animals, safety measures, nutritional needs, food quality, food safety, air quality, water quality, appropriate sound levels for animal life, consideration of diurnal/seasonal patterns, appropriate veterinary/health plans, plans to recognize adverse medical trends, treatment protocols/management plans for emergency medical situations (injuries, escapes, etc.), training of staff interacting with animals, use of positive reinforcement in any animal husbandry/training programs, transparency and openness of daily operations and animal care, and much 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 Association. "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 Association 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."

About American Humane Association  
American Humane Association is the country's first national humane organization, and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. With an unparalleled reach and scope, the organization positively touches more than 42,000 lives each minute through effective, life-affirming, life-saving services and public outreach – more than any other organization in its field. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today it is leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today. 

About Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre
Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is a non-profit society dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life. As Canada's only Marine Mammal Rescue Centre with a skilled team able to rescue sick, stranded or injured whales and dolphins, Vancouver Aquarium rescues, rehabilitates and releases more than 100 marine mammals back into the wild annually. The Aquarium leads national direct action programs aimed at protecting the world's oceans, such as its Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup program that brings together nearly 60,000 Canadians to help keep our waterways debris-free each year, and its Ocean Wise program which works with restaurants, suppliers and markets to provide ocean-friendly options to consumers. Every year, more than 100,000 school children visit the Aquarium as part of curriculum-based school programs designed to help teachers engage in conservation-based learning beyond the classroom. These are budding ocean conservationists who leave inspired to play a role in protecting our world's oceans. Join Vancouver Aquarium in its global efforts to conserve aquatic life – learn more at www.vanaqua.org.

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SOURCE American Humane Association

For further information: Mark Stubis, 202-677-4227, marks@americanhumane.org, http://www.americanhumane.org

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