Virtual Scenarios: Interactive Tools for Animal Welfare Education

What Are Virtual Scenarios?

Virtual scenarios are interactive simulations that place students face-to-face with realistic situations they might encounter in their professional practice. Imagine an environment where you can test your skills and knowledge without the risk of causing real harm to animals—this is the magic of virtual scenarios. They are widely used in education across various fields, especially in animal welfare, to provide a rich and safe learning experience.

How Do They Work?

The concept is simple: virtual scenarios present specific situations where students need to apply their knowledge of animal welfare protocols to assess the condition of the animals presented. Let’s consider a practical example. If a veterinarian is in the field and needs to quickly evaluate a situation, they must know the relevant indicators for the species in question. Without this knowledge, they might not determine the correct order of evaluating welfare criteria, such as the absence of pain or disease, which is crucial for an accurate diagnosis.

Applications of Virtual Scenarios

Virtual scenarios have a wide range of applications:

  • Identification of Critical Points: Helps identify areas that need improvement.
  • Proposal of Improvements: Facilitates the suggestion of necessary adjustments and adaptations.
  • Resource Allocation: Allows for more efficient allocation of resources.
  • Practical Training: Offers a realistic and practical platform for training students and professionals.
  • Reduction in Animal Use: Decreases the need to use live animals for training, aligning with modern ethical principles.
  • Democratic Access: Makes training accessible to everyone, regardless of geographic location or available resources.

AVMA and Virtual Scenarios

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is an organization representing over 95,000 veterinarians in the United States. Inspired by the Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest (AWJAC) promoted by the AVMA, virtual scenarios are a valuable tool for students. In the competition, students are challenged to detect and evaluate animal welfare indicators in simulated situations. This type of training not only tests students’ knowledge but also enhances their critical thinking and decision-making skills.

Benefits of Virtual Scenarios

Virtual scenarios offer several advantages:

  • Reduction in Animal Use: Promotes ethical teaching by reducing the need for live animals in practical classes.
  • Democratic Access: Ensures that all students, regardless of their location, can access quality training.
  • Continuous Training: Allows practicing professionals to continue improving their skills.

Final Considerations

Virtual scenarios are more than just a technological trend; they are a necessary evolution in animal welfare education. They offer a safe and controlled environment for practicing critical skills, democratize access to knowledge, and promote the ethical use of animals in teaching. Tools like these, inspired and promoted by renowned organizations such as the AVMA, are essential for training competent and conscientious professionals, prepared to face field challenges with knowledge and compassion.

To learn more about virtual scenarios and how they can be integrated into your curriculum, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website and check out their animal welfare initiatives.


  1. American Veterinary Medical Association. (2023). AVMA.
  2. Molewijk, A. C., Abma, T., Stolper, M., & Widdershoven, G. (2008). Teaching ethics in the clinic. The theory and practice of moral case deliberation. Journal of Medical Ethics, 34(2), 120-124.
  3. Phillips, C. J. C. (2009). Principles of Animal Welfare. Cambridge University Press.
  4. Fraser, D. (2008). Understanding Animal Welfare: The Science in its Cultural Context. Wiley-Blackwell.
  5. Rollin, B. E. (2011). Animal Rights and Human Morality. Prometheus Books.

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