Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

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The EU Zoo Inquiry

Photographs taken in European zoos in 2016 by Britta Jaschinski and Jo-Anne McArthur on behalf of the Born Free Foundation.

Urgent Action:

Please participate in the Public Consultation as part of the REFIT evaluation of EU Zoos Directive and provide your opinions about the role of zoos in the European Union.

Born Free would appreciate your time and effort in completing the Questionnaire (

Here is the easy-to-use guide on how you can complete the Questionnaire   

The EU Zoo Inquiry is a long-term project evaluating the status and performance of zoos across the European Union set against the obligations of the EU Zoo Directive 1999/22. The purpose of the Project was to identify the causes behind the substandard conditions in Europe’s zoos, documented by the Foundation over the years.

The EU Zoo Inquiry was initiated and is conducted by the Born Free Foundation, in association with the European NGO coalition, ENDCAP. The Project seeks to review the effectiveness of national zoo legislation, the capacity of national competent authorities to apply and enforce zoo law, and the performance of zoos against their legal requirements.

The Project has included country-based investigations, zoo visits, consultations with EU governments and competent authorities and an EU-wide evaluation of the implementation and enforcement of the EC Directive 1999/22 (relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos).

The EU Zoo Inquiry 2011, undertaken between 2009 and 2011, involved 21country-specific investigations, evaluating 200 zoos. Reports on the country investigations have been published, together with a summary report focused on captive dolphin facilities and a summary report evaluating the effectiveness of the Directive across the European Union. The EU Zoo Inquiry 2016, was undertaken between 2015 and 2016, and involved seven country-specific investigations, evaluating a further 54 zoos. Latest findings, and comparisons with those findings from the 2009-11 investigations, will be published in 2016. The EU Zoo Inquiry 2016 project coincides with an official review (REFIT) of the EC Directive 1999/22 by the European Commission.

Findings of the 2011 project revealed poor implementation and enforcement of the requirements of the Directive and the national zoo legislation and substandard conditions in the majority of zoos. Further evaluation and consultation with EU Member State’ competent authorities revealed that these failures were largely due to the limited knowledge of the competent authorities and a lack of access to training and relevant resources. The EU Zoo Inquiry has led to: changes to national zoo legislation; the provision of training for State veterinarians and practitioners in fundamental and applied animal welfare science; the creation of the EU Zoos Directive Good Practices Document; and the development of further capacity-building opportunities.

Fast track to the country reports >

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

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