From Prevention of Cruelty to Optimizing Welfare: Opportunities to Thrive (#338)
Historically, animal welfare was evaluated in terms of negative states (e.g., hunger or thirst) as evidenced by the five freedoms. As the field continues to expand in both technique (e.g., technological advances, multimodal assessment tools, etc.) and understanding, many of the traditional frameworks no longer provide the detail and direction to take full advantage of our shared knowledge. As we shift our methods to examine positive states of welfare (e.g., behavioral diversity) in addition to negative measures we also find that our focus must be detailed enough to account for the interplay between the two. If we are to consider an animal’s welfare on a continuum from poor to thriving, we are pressed to develop a lens with which we can assess opportunities for animals (inputs) and evaluate their impacts (outputs). The concept of assessing welfare framed by providing animals with ‘opportunities to thrive’ allows us to adapt to the changing needs of animals within a specific context. Utilizing opportunities to thrive should not replace measurement of output variables but provide a framework to develop an animal welfare management program to optimize welfare for animals under human care.