midiamimesEuropean zoos perpetuate animal suffering

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Bulgarian zoo (Photo: Born Free Foundation)The EU Zoo Inquiry 2011 – New study exposes failure of zoo regulation throughout Europe.
 
Brussels 2nd February 2011: Initial findings of The EU Zoo Inquiry 2011, the most comprehensive investigation into the licensing and performance of zoos across the EU, has revealed the systemic failure of governments, competent authorities and enforcement agencies to ensure that European zoos meet their legal obligations to species conservation, education and animal welfare.
 
The EU Zoo Inquiry 2011 website (www.euzooinquiry.eu) will, over the coming months, reveal the details of this ground-breaking work which exposes failures, identifies the causes and provides a wealth of information on zoo regulation in 20 EU countries.
 
Produced by international wildlife NGO, the Born Free Foundation, on behalf of ENDCAP, The EU Zoo Inquiry 2011 is an independent study which evaluates the degree to which EC Directive 1999/22 – the Zoos Directive – has been implemented and enforced.
 
Daniel Turner, spokesperson for The EU Zoo Inquiry and lead investigator explains, “Over the last 18 months, our investigations into the state of over 200 zoos reveal that most zoos across the European Community are not meeting their legal obligations. As a result, millions of animals continue to be kept in poor or appalling conditions in thousands of zoos.”  Turner continued, “In the European Union, regulation of zoos and the protection of wild animals in captivity is the responsibility of Member States which has resulted in dramatically differing zoo standards. While we have yet to publish all our findings, what I can say is that none of the countries we have surveyed are without fault. Many animals in European zoos are suffering needlessly and without assistance from the European Community, the failures we have found are likely to continue.”
 
Since 2005, all zoos in the majority of EU Member States have been required to meet the basic requirements of EC Directive 1999/22 and, through a licensing and inspection process, implement a series of measures that oblige zoos to conserve biodiversity, educate the public and maintain their animals in conditions that meet their species-specific needs.
 
Although the Directive has been transposed into law in each Member State, these laws often lack detailed provisions relating to conservation, educational and scientific activities, standards of animal welfare and effective licensing and inspection procedures – as well as clear strategies for humanely dealing with animals in the event of zoo closure. The Directive’s requirements themselves are relatively ambiguous and allow for inconsistencies in interpretation. As a consequence, Member States are failing to ensure these provisions are fully applied by the zoos within their jurisdiction.
 
Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundation, which fully-funded the investigation, said, “Having identified systemic failures by European governments to effectively implement and enforce the EC Zoos Directive nationally, we look to the European Commission to provide support and assistance as a matter of urgency.” Travers explained; ”To date, wild animals in captivity have been largely marginalised by European animal protection initiatives. However, with the drafting of the European Union’s Plan for Animal Welfare (EUPAW) in 2011, there is an opportunity to address this by ensuring that European countries receive the training and knowledge they so clearly need. I want captive wild animals – in zoos, circuses and those kept as pets – included in the mandate of EUPAW, so that EU Member States can meet their obligations to the animals in their care.”
 
Keen to ensure a constructive approach and address failings identified by the investigation, the Born Free Foundation and ENDCAP Member NGOs are working bilaterally with national governments and competent authorities to develop a workplan and subsequent actions to address identified shortfalls.
 
The website, www.euzooinquiry.eu will be launched on 2nd February 2011 and will eventually include individual zoo reports and an evaluation of zoo regulations and zoo compliance in each Member State. Updated feedback from national governments will also be posted which will enable European Citizens to chart the progress (or not) of their government on this important issue.
 
EC Directive 1999/22, relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos
 
Since April 2005 (2007 in the case of Bulgaria and Romania) all EU Member State had to fully implement and enforce the requirements of EC Directive 1999/22.  The European Commission has the responsibility for overseeing and ensuring the effective implementation of the Directive by Member States and taking legal action in the event of non-compliance.
 
The Directive provided a framework for Member State legislation, through the licensing and inspection of zoos, to strengthen the role of zoos in the conservation of biodiversity and the exchange of information to promote the protection and conservation of wild animal species.  This is in accordance with the Community’s obligation to adopt measures for ex situ conservation under Article 9 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992).  Member States are also required to adopt further measures that include: the provision of adequate accommodation for animals in zoos that aims to satisfy their biological needs; species-specific enrichment of enclosures; a high standard of animal husbandry; a programme of preventative and curative veterinary care and nutrition; and to prevent the escape of animals and the intrusion of outside pests and vermin.
 
Estimates place the total number of licensed zoos in the EU to be at least 3,500.  However, there are thought to be hundreds of unlicensed and unregulated zoological collections that have yet to be identified and licensed by the Competent Authorities.  No more than 8% of the total number of zoos in Europe are members of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).
 
Preliminary investigations revealed that many zoos in the EU are substandard and are failing to comply with the Directive.  Furthermore, EU Member States are inconsistent in their application of the Directive, but little effort has been made to identify and address the reasons behind this.  The project aims to assess the current situation in the majority of Member States, identify any issues requiring attention and provide recommendations as to how implementation and enforcement can be improved.
 
The EU Zoo Inquiry 2011 included an assessment of 200 zoos throughout the following EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and United Kingdom (England only).
 
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Author: ENDCAP