Speaker Q&A - exotics vet Tariq Abou-Zahr


For this year’s AWF Discussion Forum, taking place on Wednesday 5th June, we have invited a number of exotic animal experts to debate and discuss whether we can really meet the welfare needs of exotic species in captivity.

To give us an insight into the topic and what the debate will be covering, we talked to AWF Discussion Forum speaker and exotic animal veterinary surgeon, Tariq Abou-Zahr.

AWF: What sparked your interest in exotic animal welfare?

Tariq: I have been keeping exotic animals since I was a young boy, starting with budgies when I was 7 years old and progressing from there. I still keep birds/reptiles now, even with a busy day job! I am an exotic animal vet and I have an interest in any legislation or regulation concerning the species that are my patients.

AWF: Why is the topic of exotic animal welfare particularly relevant now?

Tariq: Exotic species are becoming increasingly popular, the veterinary profession in the UK is becoming more interested in them in my opinion, with more exotic practices opening and more exotic animal specialists being registered. We also know a lot more about the health and welfare of many exotic species these days than we ever have done.

AWF: What are the key issues of your topic?

Tariq: Some species live a lifestyle which is impossible to provide anything akin to in captivity and hence their welfare needs cannot be met, but many exotic species are well suited to life in captivity and can have good welfare in my opinion. The way forward lies in regulation and education, rather than prohibition.

AWF: What are you hoping delegates will take away from your session?

Tariq: That the welfare issue is not necessarily the keeping itself, but rather the way in which the animals are kept.

  • Find out more about the exotic animal welfare debate and the other Discussion Forum sessions.
  • Purchase your ticket to the AWF Discussion Forum and House of Commons Reception.