Captive Animal Facility Checklist: Know Before You Go!

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YOU can help identify which of the sanctuaries, zoos, and wildlife facilities near you are humane and which should be avoided for their inappropriate captive care and/or for exploiting animals. The Netflix documentary ‘Tiger King’, captured the attention of millions of viewers by highlighting an example of cruel and dangerous animal entertainment park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the show did not spend enough time talking about the issues with the facilities and how it demonstrates dangerous captive care.   

The Jane Goodall Institute has worked very hard to establish best-in-class captive welfare at our Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of the Congo, largely thanks to Dr. Rebeca Atencia and the Chimpanzee Welfare Index. This ensures that the physical, emotional, and socialization needs of every chimpanzee and chimpanzee groups are accounted for. Our hope is that every facility caring for captive animals takes the time to establish best possible care for their animals.

By taking the time to go through this checklist for each facility, you’ll get a better idea of the quality of the captive animal care near you! Make sure to always do this before visiting, sharing about or engaging with captive animal facilities, in the U.S. or abroad.

  1. Is the facility accredited by the ASA (American Sanctuary Association) or AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums)?  
    • IF YES, they are likely a good facility. 
  2. Do your research on the social media accounts, website of the facility, and review photos on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. What kind of imagery/reviews do you see?  
    • Are there photos of people posing with and touching the captive animals? IF YES, they are likely a NOT so good facility, as this is a sign of poor captive care and exploitation.  
  3. Look at their website or reviews of their facility (start with the ‘About’ page/section): Do they limit the hours in the day in which visitors may enter the facility, thereby providing down time for the animals?  
    • If YES, this is a sign of a good facility.  
  4. Look at their website and/or reviews of their facility (maybe specifically the ‘About’ page/section and/or staff page); Do they have a vet on staff?  
    • If YES, this is a sign of a good facility.  
  5. Look at their website or reviews of their facility: Is there enough space in the enclosures for the animals and are the enclosures/animals kept clean (clean food/water)?  
    • If YES, this is a sign of a good facility.  
  6. Airbnb recently updated their ‘Animal Experiences’ areas to be shaped by an important set of captive care guidelines. Learn more and use their platform to search for appropriate experiences!

Learn more about and support JGI’s captive care and rescue of chimpanzees by becoming (or gifting) a Chimpanzee Guardian here.


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The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

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About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Associate Director of Communications & Partnerships at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Jane Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission to create a better world for all by protecting the interconnections between people, other animals, and the environment. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is currently a Master's of Science Candidate for Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Environmental Justice. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, now a D.C. resident, she has a varied background including nearly 10 years of expert communications and digital marketing in the social and environmental non-profit sector. Her intersectional approach to this work has been shaped by a holistic world-view, having traveled to Madagascar and Ecuador for conservation research projects, leading communications for youth social justice filmmaking programs, and as a part of several professional groups advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in environmental spaces. With skills ranging from conservation fieldwork, policy and advocacy campaigns, strategic communications, art, digital media, and design, Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in the magic of storytelling to change hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she is igniting positive change to create that better, more equitable world, every day.