New report by leading European NGOs calls for more protection of captive wild animals
Fresh claims have been made today by the European coalition, ENDCAP* that the European Community is still failing to adequately care and protect wild animals in captivity (i.e. animals in zoos, circuses, dolphinaria and those kept as pets). The specialists in the protection and welfare of these animals throughout Europe have presented a Communication to European Commission, Members of the European Parliament and the Council that calls for existing and proposed initiatives that aim to protect animals in Europe, to address the inconsistent application of existing legislation and indications that many of wild animals in captivity are kept in sub-standard conditions.
Daniel Turner, spokesperson for ENDCAP explains, “Our investigations have revealed that the application of animal protection law is dependent upon the will, knowledge, experience and available resources of each Member State and this has resulted in enormous variation in the standards delivered to wild animals in captivity. We have evidence that wild animals throughout Europe are kept in appalling conditions, and that facilities that keep wild animals, and thus responsible for their care, are failing to meet this obligation. ENDCAP and European Citizens feel that this is unacceptable.” Turner continued, “The ENDCAP Communication published today is requesting the European Community to include the protection of wild animals in captivity, along with all other animals, within the remit of the soon to be revised Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals and the further, the newly proposed European Network of Reference Centres for the protection and welfare of animals. To date, wild animals in captivity have been largely marginalised by European animal protection initiatives.”
Since the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997, the European Union has demonstrated a commitment to animal welfare recognising that animals are sentient beings  (with the ability to experience pain, suffering and distress). The establishment and subsequent adoption of the Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals  by the European Community in 2006 confirms that the protection and welfare of animals in the European Union is of important ethical value in modern society. Although the Action Plan is largely aspirational and does not impose mandatory requirements on Member States, it does demonstrate a desire by the Community to seek greater welfare provisions for animals and this has been valued by industry, NGOs  and the public.
In 2009/10, the Commission will be evaluating the Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals and whilst the EC Treaty does not specifically include animal welfare, the Action Plan does present an opportunity to increase the scope of the Community’s commitment to animal protection and welfare without compromising the mandate of the Treaty. This is also the case for the proposed European Network of Reference Centres, currently proposed by the Commission, which aims to harmonise animal welfare standards, undertake research and provide impartial expert guidance and assistance to Member States. The inclusion therefore of actions applicable to wild animals in captivity in the mandate of both initiatives is possible and essential.
“Evidence gathered by ENDCAP within Member States during 2009 indicates that there is a widespread lack of expertise relating to animal welfare, which is undermining their ability to effectively implement relevant legislation. The Action Plan, and the welcomed, European Network of Reference Centres (ENRC) for the protection and welfare of animals should therefore seek to support Member States and, where necessary, provide leadership to help them ensure all animals, domesticated and wild, that are owned by, managed by and kept by European Citizens are in conditions that meet their inherent needs”, concludes Turner. “Any facility, or individual unable to keep an animal in conditions that meet their inherent needs, should not be allowed to own, manage or keep that animal.”
The Communication by ENDCAP, which includes photographic evidence taken at numerous captive animal collections during 2009, aims to raise awareness of the poor conditions under which many wild animals are still kept in Europe and thus substantiate the inclusion of wild animals in captivity within the remit of the next Action Plan (2010 – 2014) and, further, to propose that the welfare of these animals is incorporated into the mandate of the European Network of Reference Centres (ENRC)  for the protection and welfare of animals. ENDCAP continues to lobby of higher welfare standards for wild animals in captivity.
See the report, Animal Welfare Excellence
 Animal Welfare Excellence in Europe, ENDCAP + Born Free Foundation (2009)
 Protocol annexed to the Treaty of the European Community – Protocol on protection and welfare of animals. Official Journal C 340 , 10/11/1997 p. 0110
 Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006 – 2010. SEC(2006)65 Strategic basis for the proposed actions, 2.2
 Non-Government Organisations
 COM(2009)584. Options for animal welfare labelling and the establishment of a European Network of Reference Centres for the protection and welfare of animals.
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