World Society for the Protection of Animals

About WSPA

WSPA believes that animals have biologically determined instincts, interests and natures, and can experience pain and suffering.

It is our conviction that each individual animal has intrinsic value, and that it is the responsibility of humans to ensure that their welfare is respected and protected.
We believe that animals should live their lives free from avoidable suffering at the hands of humans; rather than be used inhumanely as ‘raw materials’ for the benefit of mankind.
WSPA insists that all animals owned by, or under the control of humans, should be kept in conditions appropriate to the needs of the species. Where the physiological and behavioral needs of a species cannot be met, the animals should not be kept.

General principles
Animal welfare is defined by both the physical and psychological state of an animal and the conditions in which it lives.

The welfare of an animal can be described as good if the individual is fit, healthy and free from suffering.

WSPA assesses the welfare of animals using the Five Freedoms (FAWC 2003):

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  • Freedom from fear and distress
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour

These represent a useful ‘checklist’ to quickly identify situations which compromise good animal welfare - that is, any situation that causes fear, pain, discomfort, injury, disease or behavioural distress.

Welfare is a consideration only to living animals; the method of killing animals is critical as it can often cause extreme pain and distress before death intervenes, rather than an instant humane kill.

Protecting animals involves the prevention of unnecessary suffering, ensuring a good quality of life or a humane death.

The key difference between conservation and animal welfare is that conservation focuses on species, populations and habitats, whereas animal welfare focuses on the individual animal.