About The Book

EXCELLENCE BEYOND COMPLIANCE: Enhancing Animal Welfare Through the Constructive Use of the Animal Welfare Act is a positive, empowering and inspirational guidebook designed to assist zoological professionals and zoological organizations entrusted to care for animals, including those regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  The book discusses the AWA and its “standards”; establishes a philosophy of continuous improvement and constructive collaboration; outlines the organizational framework and staff critical for fostering AWA compliance and enhancing animal welfare; details the best ways for preparing for and conducting inspections, including drawing upon agency guidance; suggests means for undertaking corrective measures, improvements, and follow-up after inspections with self-certified compliance reporting and appeals; and also offers guidance for dealing with serious incidents and other situations. It recommends various measures that accrediting associations, the regulatory agency and other stakeholders, including the public, media, and critics, can engage in to help advance the principles of EXCELLENCE BEYOND COMPLIANCE® and enhance animal welfare. This invaluable resource also contains links to relevant forms, select agency guidance materials and additional helpful information.

Recognition For

“Jim Gesualdi is a knowledgeable, tireless, and enthusiastic advocate for improving the welfare of animals in human care. His Excellence Beyond Compliance program is a unique resource, full of advice and useful tools gleaned from decades of experience, to help those of us dedicated to caring for animals do our very best each day. As he frequently says: ‘It’s all about the animals.’ ”
Wendy Bulger, Esq.
General Counsel
San Diego Zoo Global


“Gesualdi’s primer is a ‘must have’ for anyone or any facility attempting to navigate the Animal Welfare Act. His team approach to welfare challenges every staff member to recognize that their performance, no matter what the task, should translate to improving the welfare of the animals in their care. My favorite quote: ‘EXCELLENCE BEYOND COMPLIANCE is an ongoing process rather than a destination.’ His challenge of continuous improvement takes us from just meeting requirements to developing a culture dedicated to welfare, health and safety for animals and their caregivers.”
Yvonne Nadler, DVM, MPH
Consultant to the Zoological community on
all hazards contingency planning


“Mr. Gesualdi has, through his intellect, insight and expertise, provided a balanced and unbiased approach to exceeding the animal welfare regulations. I strongly recommend implementing the guidelines contained within to provide the best care possible for the animals in our stewardship, which, in the end, is what society demands and human nature wills.”
Wm. Kirk Suedmeyer, DVM, Dipl. ACZM
Director of Animal Health, The Kansas City Zoo
Past President, American Association of Zoo Veterinarians


“Well done! I always say that regulations and standards prevent both the worst and the best outcomes. So I certainly support Excellence Beyond Compliance’s admonition to exceed standards, and the insight that the drive to exceed expectations must become personal before it can become institutional.”
Jon Coe, FASLA
Founding Principal
Jon Coe Design, Pty. Ltd.


“Excellence Beyond Compliance reveals an attorney demonstrating intense and practical interest in the welfare of animals without relying on an emotionally-charged animal legal ‘rights’ paradigm. Author James Gesualdi shows respect for all people interested in improving conditions for animals, regardless of their philosophical stances. Having worked with and studied the Animal Welfare Act for nearly 25 years as an attorney, Mr. Gesualdi’s deeply practical recommendations for animal caretakers merit serious attention. Excellence Beyond Compliance admirably promotes a mindset of going well beyond the AWA’s minimum requirements, and it enthusiastically calls on those who work with animals to serve as noble champions of their welfare.”
Richard L. Cupp Jr.
John W. Wade Professor of Law
Pepperdine University, School of Law


“Government regulations are typically aimed at establishing minimum standards, and appropriately so. But when it comes to ensuring the quality of life for the animals that we care for, many want to go beyond ‘minimum’ and strive to achieve ‘best.’ Thus, the value of Excellence Beyond Compliance is to put in place internal mechanisms that utilize the minimum standards and regulatory process under the Animal Welfare Act to achieve excellence in animal care. Ultimately, through the efforts of individuals and institutions striving to achieve excellence, the standard of care improves for all animals.”
W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA
Executive Vice President and CEO (Retired)
American Veterinary Medical Association
(Former Administrator, USDA APHIS)


“Excellence Beyond Compliance is at once a timely and important book. As a nation, we are increasingly concerned with how we treat animals, whether they are raised for food, utilized for research, kept as pets, or find their homes in any of our accredited zoos. This book is essential in promoting an ethic of an animal care and welfare while simultaneously providing very specific action steps which will inevitably allow us to improve husbandry. Meeting the basic standards of care as promulgated by governmental regulations is necessary but not sufficient. This book is essential reading for all of us who want to do more for the amazing creatures in our care.”
Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D.
Dana Brown President & CEO
St. Louis Zoo


“The pursuit of wellness requires that zoos reach far beyond regulated minimums to provide conditions that promote thriving. These standards are consistent with the ideas developed by James Gesualdi in his comprehensive EXCELLENCE BEYOND COMPLIANCE strategy. I strongly endorse this enlightened publication as the best way to ensure the highest possible quality of life for captive wildlife.”
Terry L. Maple, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Georgia Institute of Technology
Professor-in-Residence, Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens
Director Emeritus, Zoo Atlanta


“This is an excellent primer for zoological institutions for a ‘how to’ to understand the Animal Welfare Act’s requirements and more importantly, how to exceed them. The presentation is excellent in that it does not focus on confrontation, but how we can work together with regulatory agencies for the benefit of animals in our care. That said, it also clearly outlines the differences between an inspection process and the investigative processes, and the strong advisability for counsel in the latter process. Overall, this book is to be congratulated for its focus on not only just meeting, but exceeding standards, which everyone conscientious about animal care would strongly endorse.”
R. Eric Miller, DVM
Senior Vice President, Director, Zoological Operations
St. Louis Zoo


“Attorney James F. Gesualdi demonstrates not only extensive knowledge and experience guiding organizations caring for animals regulated under the Animal Welfare Act, but also how to apply that experience and knowledge toward improving the welfare of animals in a practical way. He proposes solutions most people can agree on, and shows how to encourage the different people and organizations involved to work together to apply practical, reasonable improvements.”
Gil Panzer, Esq.
Panzer Law, P.A.