Work has begun on the new code of practice that hopes to support the better implementation of the EC Zoos Directive and ensure EU zoos meet their legal obligations in the conservation of biodiversity, public education and animal welfare.
An initiative by the European Commission and executed by consultants, VetEfferT and Active Life Company, the code of practice is a welcomed result of the EU Zoo Inquiry 2011. Findings from the extensive evaluation into the implementation and enforcement of the EC Zoos Directive identified that zoos were largely not complying with these legal obligations and that Member State authorities often lack the ability and knowledge to regulate and evaluate the effectiveness of such activities.
The new code of practice is likely to assist Member State competent authorities by including much needed interpretation and explanation of Article 3 of the Directive, which lists five provisions obligatory to all licensed zoos in the EU. These state that zoos must:
- Participation in scientific research, training, information exchange, or captive breeding that benefits increased conservation of species;
- Delivery of public education and awareness in relation to the conservation of biodiversity and information about the species on display;
- Provision of an appropriate environment for the animals in zoos that satisfy the biological requirements of the individual species, by providing species specific environmental enrichment for the enclosures, maintaining high standards in animal husbandry, veterinary care and nutrition;
- Prevention of the escape of animals and the intrusion of indigenous animal species; and
- Maintenance of up-to-date records of the animals in their care.
Daniel Turner, Senior Operations Officer at the Born Free Foundation and Coordinator of ENDCAP, has been invited to join the multi-stakeholder committee established to help develop the new code. “Representing the needs of the animals, I will endeavour to ensure the code of practice will include all relevant information and guidance in order to bring about improved animal care and provide the means for government authorities to ensure zoos meet their conservation obligations, but not at a cost to the welfare of the animal.”
The code of better practice for zoos is likely to take 12 months to complete and publication is expected in 2014.
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