midiamimesEuropean zoo failures to be addressed in EU ‘Good Practices’ Document

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Lions in Bulgarian zoo (Photo: Born Free Foundation)The Born Free Foundation welcomes the publication of the EU’s Good Practices Document on zoo regulation and hopes that it will influence higher welfare standards for wild animals in captivity.
Drafted through a multi-stakeholder consultative process, the European Commission’s long-awaited EU Zoos Directive – Good Practices Document provides detailed explanations of best practices encouraging improved implementation of the EU Zoos Directive 1999/22 and national zoo law across Europe.
Daniel Turner, Programmes Manager at the Born Free Foundation, said: “Born Free’s EU Zoo Inquiry 2011, an extensive review of zoo regulation in the EU, exposed poor to appalling conditions for animals in zoos in Europe. We identified that the poor implementation of national zoo regulation was largely to blame, exacerbated by poor enforcement.
“Keen to encourage improvements in zoo regulation and improve standards in animal welfare, Born Free had asked for the development of a guidance document to ensure accurate interpretation of legal requirements and to support the competent authorities in the EU countries in the application of zoo law. As a stakeholder in the development of the EU Zoos Directive – Good Practice Document, we welcome its publication and hope its recommendations will be fully adopted by all EU countries”.
In 2012, the Born Free Foundation published The EU Zoo Inquiry: Report Findings and Recommendations, summarising its extensive investigations into zoo status and performance across Europe. The findings revealed that zoos were largely not complying with their legal obligations, which are underpinned by the EU Zoos Directive, and that Member State authorities often lacked the ability and knowledge to regulate and evaluate the effectiveness of any species conservation efforts. Work started on the guidance document, aimed at assisting Member State competent authorities, in 2013 and involved extensive consultation from the Born Free Foundation, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria and EU Member State representatives. The EU Zoos Directive – Good Practice Document was published on 22nd July 2015 by the European Commission.
Recognising that the regulation of zoos is the responsibility of EU Member States, the EU Zoos Directive – Good Practice Document seeks to help competent authorities improve compliance with the requirements of the Directive by sharing experiences and examples of implementation methods. It seeks to ensure the approximately 3,500 European zoos meet their legal obligation to fully commit to the awareness-raising of, and active involvement in, biodiversity conservation.
The Born Free Foundation remains concerned about the poor conditions for animals in Europe’s zoos. It will continue to encourage improved implementation of zoo law, seek capacity-building for government authorities, and call for a commitment towards the phasing out species that are known to suffer in zoos.

Further information

EU Zoos Directive (no.1999/22/EC) requires all zoos (as defined) to be licensed and controlled through regular inspection; to ensure their engagement in activities to conserve biodiversity; and to educate the public and maintain high standards in animal welfare. All EU countries are required to adopt these requirements within national legislation and ensure zoos strengthen their role in biodiversity conservation. For more information, please download the PDF.
The EU Zoo Inquiry 2011, by the Born Free Foundation, included a review of national law, law enforcement and compliance in a selected number of zoos in 21 EU Member States. It identified inconsistencies in application and sub-standard conditions, primarily due to lack of knowledge and training of enforcement personnel and zoo operators to ensure an understanding of the legal requirements of the Directive. For more information please visit: www.euzooinquiry.eu
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Author: ENDCAP