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Elephant Welfare Group (EWG)

The Elephant Welfare Group was set up to drive forward a series of improvements in the welfare and care of elephants in UK zoological collections.


In 2010 BIAZA formed an elephant welfare group with the remit of improving elephant welfare in British and Irish zoological collections. The group was set up in response to a series of reports highlighting welfare concerns in captive elephants, including the Bristol University report by Dr Moira Harris, Dr Chris Sherwin and Professor Stephen Harris (2008), which looked at the welfare, housing and husbandry of elephants in UK zoos. This study was funded by Defra, BIAZA, IFAWRSPCA. Subsequently, The Zoos Forum (now the Zoos Expert Committee) published a report to review the issues in elephants in zoos, in light of the Bristol University report, and provided a series of recommendations.

Following this, BIAZA were asked by the UK government to expand the remit of their current group to tackle these issues and drive forward a series of evidence based improvements in the welfare and care of elephants in UK collections. Lord Henley, the Government Minister said to BIAZA: I  believe that BIAZA’s Elephant Welfare Group is well-placed to act upon section 6.1 of the Forum’s report and to drive forward a programme of improvements, encourage co-ordination, develop and share husbandry advice and good practice, and monitor progress. I agree with the Forum that a ten year period for this is reasonable, with a review after five years. I expect there to be evidence of improvements within this timescale.

Structure of the Group

Since taking on the new remit, the group has expanded its membership quite considerably. The group currently consists of 16 members, including academics, defra representatives, welfare scientists, zoo directors, zoo veterinarians, elephant keeping staff and other experts. The group is administered by BIAZA and chaired by Nic Masters, Head of Veterinary Services at ZSL.

Terms of Reference

1.  To take vigorous and concerted action to ensure that UK collections maintain their elephants to the highest standards based on current knowledge this should include:

    • Planning and driving a programme of improvements
    • Development of husbandry advice where needed
    • Encouraging and monitoring coordination
    • Monitoring progress

2.  To ensure strategic research is carried out to advance knowledge relating to the husbandry, health and welfare of elephants to support objective 1.


Elephant Welfare Group Newsletters, Minutes and Resources


Harris, M., Sherwin, C. and Harris, S. 2008. The welfare, housing and husbandry of elephants in UK zoos - Defra WC05007. Defra. Available at

The Zoos Forum 2010. Elephants in UK Zoos. Zoos Forum review of issues in elephant husbandry in UK zoos in the light of the Report by Harris et al (2008). Available at 


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