The Five Domains of Freedom and the Five Provisions

ACES is strongly supportive of the Five Domains of Freedom and the Five Provisions concepts. The Five Domains of Freedom is a five-point list developed in the 1990s, providing general welfare guidelines that all human-animal interrelationships should adhere to. The concept was originally designed for farm animals but is now generally accepted for all animals living in captive environs. The Five Domains of Freedom are regularly cited by industry bodies, including ABTA, as guiding principles for animal welfare in tourism.


As the Five Domains  of Freedom theory is now thirty years old, there has been an evolution and natural progression in the usefulness and applicability of the Five Domains of Freedom paradigm.  Superseding the original Five Domains of Freedom is now the Five Provisions of animal welfare. The Five Provisions embrace updated scientific understandings of animal welfare and intends to work in conjunction with the Five Domains, but with some key concept updates. 


One of the major drawbacks of the initial Five Domains of Freedom concept is that over time its original meaning has been taken out of context. The phrase ‘freedom’ was originally meant to mean ‘as free as possible’. Whereas the concept is now used to mandate a literal ‘completely achievable at all times’ standard of behaviour. But this is biologically unachievable, misleading and unattainable. For example, no living animal can ever be ‘free from thirst’. As the actual experience of being thirsty makes one drink.  Similarly, one must experience hunger to need to eat. Therefore the concept of being ‘free from hunger’ is not actually possible. These may be small corrections, but nevertheless the Five Domains of Freedom are over time being replaced by the Five Provisions.

The Five Provisions works at a more practical, applied level and is much more suited to elephant-based tourism. The Five Provisions work to minimise negative experiences or situations and promote positive changes. The table below indicates the differences between the Five Freedoms and Five Provisions, and the alignment of ACES camp evaluation criteria with each provision.