midiamimesThe EU Zoo Inquiry

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Report reveals failure in Europe’s zoos to protect animals.
A three year study exposes failure of zoo regulation throughout Europe.

 
Brussels 24th April 2012: Report Findings of The EU Zoo Inquiry, 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, public education and animal welfare.
 
Keen to assist Member State governments, raise standards and improve the lives of animals in zoos across Europe, the ground-breaking work exposes failures, identifies the causes and provides a wealth of information on zoo regulation to encourage and assist positive change.
 
The EU Zoo Inquiry has involved visits to 20 EU countries, an assessment of 200 zoos, constructive dialogue with government departments and an evaluation of national zoo laws: culminating in 20 individual Country Reports (for Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia), a review of zoo regulation in Spain and an evaluation of EU dolphinariums. The EU Zoo Inquiry concludes this current study with a review of common trends and a comparison of Member States – the Report Findings and Recommendations.
 
All reports, which are accessed from website (www.euzooinquiry.eu) have revealed details of this
 
Produced by international wildlife NGO, the Born Free Foundation, on behalf of ENDCAP, The EU Zoo Inquiry 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 3 years, our investigations into the state of over 200 zoos reveal that most zoos across the European Community are not meeting their legal obligations. I have seen thousands of animals in poor to appalling conditions  .”  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.
 
European zoos fail to meet public expectation.
A three year study
 
The EU Zoo Inquiry – ensuring animals in zoos are NOT forgotten
 

Three years ago when the European Commission, responsible for the implementation of the EC Zoos Directive (EU-wide zoo law), requested substantial evidence that zoos in Europe were failing to meet their responsibilities, I had little idea just how much work it would entail! The visiting of over 20 EU countries, an assessment of 200 zoos, discussions with governments of the majority of those countries and an evaluation of their national zoo laws: culminating in 20 individual Country Reports, a review of the EU’s 34 dolphinariums and a summary of Report Findings and Recommendations. The EU Zoo Inquiry is the evidence.
 
This is the most extensive investigation into the implementation and evaluation of the EU Zoos Directive, which requires zoos to conserve biodiversity, educate the public about animals and their natural attributes and keep their animals in conditions that meet their needs. Findings have revealed that few zoos are complying with all these requirements, enforcement of the law was minimal in all countries assessed and as a result, animals were found in poor to appalling conditions. On behalf of Born Free, I visited and assessed the majority of those zoos and have had the plight of so many animals etched on my mind ever since.
 
The wolves at Blagoevgrad Zoo (Bulgaria), a social species, each individual animal was kept alone in a concrete cell with nothing to do other than look out through the iron bars to the valley below. Many of these animals had developed repetitive, abnormal pacing behaviour as a result of frustration with their empty environment. I have similar memories of other animals kept in the same barren, often cramped conditions, their lives focused on walking back and forth in an apparent daze of boredom. The huge male lion at Stadt Haag Zoo (Austria), the African elephant who I saw continually circling his concrete room in Chorzow Zoo (Poland), the polar bear that had to lean over the deep, dry moat of the pit at Kaunas Zoo (Lithuania) to glimpse of the world outside and the Sulawesi macaque, curled up against a concrete wall apparently indifferent to the world at Parc zoologique du Bois d’Attilly (France). I was adamant that the EU Zoo Inquiry must do more than just provide evidence, it had to change the lives of these, and all animals in Europe’s zoos.
 
Thanks to you and your generous New Year Appeal donations, the Born Free Foundation has been able to take these, and many other individual stories of animal suffering to Brussels and to ask the support of the European Commission, European Parliament and the EU member countries. Zoos have little choice but to fulfil their legal obligations concerning conservation, research, public education and animal care and their requirement to comply with the law must be assured. The EC Zoos Directive was established to eradicate ‘slum zoos’ yet, 10 years since its implementation and they still exist.
 
Born Free has secured the support of the European Commission. The evidence was compelling. Actions are underway to establish a Preferred Code of Practice on the regulation of zoos, develop training opportunities for enforcement agencies and vets and to penalise any country that fails to ensure high standards and legal compliance. Our work, however, is not over. Born Free needs the support of the European Parliament to echo the requirement for EU countries to improve standards.
 
Chris Davies, MEP for North West England, has agreed to support, “through ignorance and oversight the objectives of the EU Directive are too often not being met.  We need the European Commission and national authorities to raise their game, promote best practice standards, and insist that these are achieved as a condition of zoos being licensed.”
 
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Author: ENDCAP