LEWISBURG – Wild Hearts African Farm, an educational facility and agritourism destination in Lewisburg in Lewisburg that teaches the importance of animals in our world, has become the first facility in Ohio to earn the “Humane Certified™” seal from American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization and the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare and well-being.
To achieve this certification, Wild Hearts African Farm had to pass a rigorous, science-based audit by an independent animal expert confirming humane treatment and adherence to a comprehensive spectrum of positive welfare indicators.
The Humane Certified program is the first of its kind solely devoted to helping verify the welfare, well-being and objectively good treatment of animals living in zoological, educational, and conservation settings around the globe. The program enforces rigorous, science-based and comprehensive criteria for animal welfare, developed by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee comprised of world-renowned leaders in the fields of animal science, animal behavior, and animal ethics.
“The public rightly demands that animals in human care receive objectively and verifiably good treatment in conditions that meet scientifically based welfare criteria,” said Paul Boyle, Ph.D., national director of the Humane Certified program overseeing the care of animals living in zoological settings around the world. “We commend Wild Hearts African Farm for voluntarily opening their doors and undergoing exhaustive examinations including in-depth comprehensive assessments of actual animal welfare conditions and practices for the more than 25 species who call the facility home.”
The facility houses such animals as African tortoises and porcupines, Nigerian dwarf goats, sheep, Patagonian maras, hedgehogs, mini pigs, ducks, and native wildlife including owls, hawks and an eagle.
“Wild Hearts African Farm is thrilled to be the first Humane Certified zoo in Ohio,” said founder and director Amanda Badger. “Although our facility is both small and young, we have aspired to achieve excellence from the very beginning. Through our guided Farm Tours and Mobile Teaching Zoo programs, our goal has been to reach as many people as possible about the human connection to wildlife conservation.
“We want people to know they can make a difference,” Badger added. “After achieving this milestone, our visitors and community can have peace of mind knowing that Wild Hearts provides topnotch nutrition, housing, social conditions, veterinary care, and is among the finest zoos in the world in achieving this honor. We are very proud of this achievement.”
Lewisburg, and state elected officials were happy about the news as well.
“Wild Hearts is an asset to our community with their beautiful farm and education programs,” said Lewisburg Mayor Marsha Jones. “When I heard the news of their Humane Certification award, I was not surprised in the least. Amanda and her team always go above and beyond. It is an honor to be the home of the very first Humane Certified zoo in Ohio, right here in Lewisburg.”
“Having been to Wild Hearts I can say this award is well-deserved,” said J. Todd Smith, State Representative, (R-District 43). “I visit many businesses throughout Ohio, and it is wonderful to see a small-town non-profit like Wild Hearts operating at the caliber of a well-funded big city zoo. Their hard work sets an example to dream and achieve big. Wild Hearts will surely become a vital asset to the economic growth of our community just as it has already been a source of joy for so many in our region.”
The American Humane program’s extensive criteria exhaustively verify the many dimensions of animal welfare and well-being, with areas of evaluation including: good health and housing; positive social interactions within groups of animals, as well as between animals and handlers; safe and stimulating environments, with concern for factors such as appropriate lighting, sound levels, air quality, and thermoregulation; and evidence of thorough preparation and protocols established to prevent and manage medical or operational emergencies.
For added rigor, Wild Hearts African Farm’s compliance with the Humane Certified program’s standards was verified through audits by independent animal experts.
“We believe all animals, including those being cared for in our zoos, aquariums, and conservation parks, are entitled to humane treatment,” said Dr. Boyle. “We think that it is a good thing that more and more zoological institutions are allowing an independent humane group to scrutinize their operations and verify with objective measures the level of care their animals are provided. This is good for the public, good for the audited organization so they can demonstrate their commitment to proper welfare or raise their standards, and most of all, good for the remarkable and endangered creatures we all want to preserve.”
You can read more about the Humane Certified program at www.HumaneConservation.org.