Fact: Hundreds of thousands of animals in thousands of zoos throughout Europe are still kept in conditions that do not meet their basic welfare needs.
Fact: Europe is currently failing to protection wild animals in zoos, despite having specific legislation to do so.
11/11/08: Members of the European Parliament, Commission officials and NGOs will meet in Brussels to try and answer one question: What can be done to help Europe’s Forgotten Animals?
Daniel Turner, spokesperson for ENDCAP, a coalition of NGOs working to raise standards for wild animals in captivity in Europe, explains; “ENDCAP’s evidence, gathered from over 20 European countries, clearly demonstrates that despite the European Zoos Directive, the welfare of hundreds of thousands – possibly millions of wild animals remains at risk. Quite frankly, the conditions in some European zoos are appalling.”
Six years after it came into force (April 2002, for 15 Member States), the implementation and enforcement of the Directive in many of the current 27 Member States is defective and, in some cases, no more than cursory. Few Member States appear to know the total number of zoos in their country, many lack the resources to train zoo personnel and zoo inspectors, and the lack of specificity regarding provisions in the legislation has led to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. An investigation in 2006 by Eurogroup for Animals found that only four Member States had effectively ensured that all their zoos were properly licensed.
ENDCAP members have conducted a subsequent evaluation of zoos which reveals that not only do conditions in many zoos throughout Europe fall short of meeting minimum legal requirements, and that zoos in some Member States are apparently operating without the required licence, but because animals are being kept in unacceptable and potentially harmful conditions, the Directive appears to be failing the very animals that it was established to protect.
While the European Commission has already taken action against Spain for non-compliance with the Directive, ENDCAP’s research shows that such problems are not limited to Spain. Addressing the European Parliament’s Intergroup for Animal Welfare in December 2007, Daniel Turner called on MEPs and the Commission to take action to amend the Directive to ensure that standards of animal welfare and keeper training are significantly improved.
“I have now been informed that the Commission has included the Directive and the issue to protection of wild animals in zoos on their 2010 plans.” said Mojca Drcar Murko MEP, representing the ALDE political group, a main sponsor of today’s meeting. “Such a positive move is consistent with the Commission’s Action Plan for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010 and could ultimately deliver the welfare benefits the animals so urgently need and the public have a right to expect.”
Since 1999 and the drafting of the Zoos Directive, European citizens have become more knowledgeable and concerned with matters relating to captive wild animal welfare. The time is right for the Commission to recognise the public mood, acknowledge the current inconsistencies in enforcement, and accept that we are failing to meet our obligations to animals in zoos. Revising the European Zoos Directive to improve its interpretation and enforcement is an important way of guaranteeing the wellbeing of wild animals in European zoos.
The Reception at the European Parliament has been kindly sponsored by the Alliance of Liberal Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and guest speakers include: Mojca Drcar Murko MEP, Magor-Imre Csibi MEP, Caroline Lucas MEP, Daniel Turner (ENDCAP Co-ordinator) and Will Travers (CEO, Born Free Foundation).
ENDCAP member organisations will now be seeking to ensure that these issues are given higher priority in their own countries, building on the momentum generated by the Reception and the subsequent 3 days ENDCAP workshop
For more information about ENDCAP and its objectives