Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Background information


In 2006, the Born Free Foundation joined forces with two Spanish Non-Government Organisations - ANDA and Attentio-DEPANA – under the collective name of InfoZoos to investigate and expose the poor conditions in Spanish zoos and their believed non-compliance with the Spanish law and the requirements of the European zoos Directive.

As international zoo watchdog, Born Free receives hundreds of reports from the British public about animal neglect and suffering in zoos across Spain and joining the coalition InfoZoos Born Free has been able to effectively address these concerns and work to ensure conditions for all Spanish Zoo animals improve. Ultimately the Born Free Foundation is against the keeping of wild animals in zoos but recognising that European legislation (Directive 1999/22/EC) exists, which demands higher standards in zoos throughout Europe, Born Free aims to ensure compliance with these higher standards as part of its long-term agenda to raise awareness about zoo animal welfare and to phase-out zoos.

As of April 2004 it has been a requirement that the Spanish Act 31/2003, on the conservation of wild animals in zoos, was enforced throughout Spain’s 17 autonomous regions and that every zoo is both licensed and inspected to ensure compliance with specific requirements. Evidence collected by Born Free and preliminary investigations made on behalf of InfoZoos has confirmed however that the Spanish regional authorities are failing to effectively implement the Act. Zoos are not licensed and inspected and therefore conditions in many zoos are below the minimum legal requirements.   

In 2006, InfoZoos carried out a pilot study on eight zoos in six different regions of Spain to assess the degree of compliance by zoos with the Spanish Act 31/2003, on the keeping of wild animals in zoos and the European Council Directive 1999/22/EC, on which the Spanish Act is based. The results revealed that the zoos were not complying with the law, which led to the closing down of four of the facilities.

In addition an official complaint was made to the European Commission in October 2006 which provided evidence that the authorities in Spain had failed to correctly implement and enforce the EC Directive. The European Commission responded in March 2007 by requesting Spain, through an infraction procedure, to fully comply with the Directive and ensure that all zoos are licensed, inspected and meet the specific requirements in animal care and actively commit to education and the conservation of biodiversity. If Spain fails to achieve this within two years (April 2009), further legal proceedings by the Commission may be taken. 

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Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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