Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Writing Letters

Zoo Check receives thousands of reports regarding captive wild animal cruelty and neglect. The majority of the reports received are investigated and followed up to the best of our ability, but sadly it is simply not possible for the Zoo Check team to take direct action on all the issues that are brought to our attention. As a member of the public, a visitor to the country, who has perhaps paid entry to the zoo or animal 'attraction’, you have the right to raise your concerns about things you have seen that may have distressed or concerned you.

Never underestimate the power of the pen (or these days the computer). There are so many examples where people like you have put pen to paper or sent an email and made a difference. The Born Free Foundation is here to help you relay the right information to the correct people. Please look at the options below for advice on how best to write your letter or email of complaint. There are many useful pointers to help you

Writing your letter

Effective letters are short and concise - 300 words should be adequate to relay your comments and concerns. Be specific about why you are writing, and what concerns you. Remember you visited the country to have a wonderful experience and you have perhaps paid an entry fee to the attraction, you therefore have the right to raise your concerns.

Q: Who should I contact

As well as contacting the Born Free Foundation and providing us with information about the animals that you are concerned about, below you will find further advice and details of who to write to:

In the UK

If your concerns and comments are about captive animals in the UK, we suggest contacting the following:

  • The Local Authority (Local Council) where the zoo or captive facility is based. The Local Authority is responsible for licensing zoos, pet shops, and other facilities that hold wild animals. Performing animals (circuses etc.) are registered by County Councils. A useful website to identify the appropriate authority is www.gov.uk/find-local-council. Search using the zoo or facility’s postcode or town.
  • The zoo or captive facility itself. It is important that they hear directly from concerned members of the public.
  • Your MP (and to your MSP / AM / MLA if in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland). A useful website to identify your parliamentary representative is writetothem.com
  • Local media or national press – tell them about your experience and concerns. Sending them accompanying photographs may also spark an interest from the media.

Overseas

Sadly, many countries do not have the same regulations for animal welfare and protection as the UK. However, by voicing your concerns you can help encourage change and help put an end to captive animal suffering and exploitation. We suggest contacting the following:

  • The Embassy or High Commission for the country concerned. You can find their details on the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Here you will find a link to the London Diplomatic List, which provides the details of country representatives in London, the name of the Ambassador Extraordinary Plenipotentiary or the High Commissioner, and the postal and/or email address of the embassy.
  • The National tourist office or Tourism Authority of the country concerned. Useful websites to identify the relevant country tourist office are: www.antor.com; www.worldtourismdirectory.com
  • Your tour operator, travel agent or hotel. Your tour operator is obliged to investigate your concerns involving animals seen on an excursion or at a hotel or facility booked through or promoted by them. This should also ensure that animal welfare remains an important issue on their agenda.
  • The zoo or captive facility itself. It is important that they here directly from concerned customers and tourists.
  • For European Union country concerns – Your MEP (Member of the European Parliament). A useful website to identify your MEP is www.writetothem.com.
  • The company or author of any brochure, guide or book that has recommended the ‘attraction’.
  • Trip advisor and Irresponsible tourism websites. Log your reports and concerns online. The internet is a great source of information and useful for spreading the word about poor captive animal facilities or individual animals.

Please note that Born Free is not responsible for the content on external sites and is not affiliated with them in any way.

Q: What information should the letter include?

  • Include the date of your visit
  • State what you have personally witnessed, what animals you saw or are concerned about
  • State where you saw the animals, the name of the facility/attraction, location and country
  • Describe the sort of conditions they were in or how the animals were treated (if you took photographs you could include some with you letter or email)
  • Explain if the animals were being made to perform tricks and what they were doing
    Describe your feelings at the time
  • Remember to use your power as a consumer, traveller or member of the public who may be local to the issue. For example, you can say that you will boycott all establishments owned by that company, or that you will tell friends and family not to visit a particular country/ resort until action is taken about animal exploitation there.

Ask direct questions that require an answer such as:

  • What are the laws regarding the welfare of captive wild animals in zoos, dolphinaria, circuses, or those kept as exotic pets or used as photographic props in a specific country?
  • How do you ensure that these laws are abided by?
  • Are you aware that many of the animals being used as photographic props appeared sedated? If this is the case, can you give me the reasoning behind this?

REMEMBER to ask for a reply and to give your contact details - name, address and email.

PLEASE be polite and courteous. You are less likely to receive an answer if you rant or are rude. You want the people that you are writing to, to listen and take you seriously.

PLEASE send copies of any replies you may receive following your letter or email to zoocheck@bornfree.org.uk

Q: How do I address members of government, diplomats and royalty?

Address your letter specifically and correctly, so that it reaches the correct person/ department. See if you can find out the individual's name. Contact Born Free, we may be able to help you.

To Start with Finish with
Presidents, chiefs of state, governors Your Excellency Yours respectfully and sincerely
Generals and colonels (Chiefs of State) Your Excellency Yours respectfully and sincerely
Prime Ministers Dear Prime Minister Yours respectfully and sincerely
Other Ministers Your Excellency (outside Europe), Dear Sir (inside Europe) Yours respectfully and sincerely, Yours faithfully
Members of Parliament (MP's) in the UK Dear Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms Yours sincerely
Ambassadors and High Commissioners Your Excellency, or Dear Ambassador Yours sincerely and respectfully
Kings, Queens and other monarchs Your Majesty Yours sincerely and respectfully
Presidents of the US Dear Mr President Yours sincerely and respectfully
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906


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