ROYAL OAK (AP/CBS Detroit) – Detroit Zoo officials plan to travel to China to assess animal welfare practices and conduct training workshops at three of the country’s major zoos.

The zoo based in the suburb of Royal Oak said Thursday that Chief Executive Ron Kagan and others will travel to China this week and visit zoos in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. He’s expected to meet with leaders and staff members as well as review animal habitats.

“It’s impressive to see how zoos in China are focused on achieving world-class conditions. They are very open and keen to know our views on animal welfare and best practices,” said Kagan, in a media release. “We are looking forward to working again with our Chinese colleagues on this important endeavor.”

During the evaluations, the Zoo says Kagan will meet with senior leadership, veterinarians and curators working directly with the animals to gain an understanding of the zoos’ provisions for welfare. He will review animal habitats and indoor spaces and consider the suitability of the environments for the species and individuals living at each zoo.

Factors to be assessed include the size and complexity of habitats, the types of substrates used and whether environmental features are species-appropriate. Diets will be examined to determine if they are nutritionally complete and presented in as natural a way as possible.

Two other Detroit Zoo officials also are scheduled to help lead a four-day workshop entitled “From Good Care to Great Welfare.” It includes lectures, discussions, exercises and hands-on experiences.

“The goal of the workshop is to help participants gain a better understanding of how animals in captivity experience their world and to ensure that they are not only providing good care but also enabling the animals to experience great welfare,” Kagan said of the program that

Kagan said he was invited by officials after discussing animal welfare at the Chinese Zoo Association’s annual director’s meeting last year.

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