Concerned by the substandard conditions in Europe’s zoos, the Born Free Foundation set out to identify, and address the reasons behind these failures.
In 2012, Born Free’s EU Zoo Inquiry 2011 concluded that the substandard conditions for animals in European zoos were due to a combination of poor law enforcement and limited knowledge by the competent authorities. These include veterinarians and enforcement agencies that are required to inspect zoos and safeguard the welfare of animals.
As a result of these findings, Born Free conducted a further survey of all EU Member State competent authorities in 2015/16, to identify their capacity-building and training needs. The findings indicate the following:
Acknowledging that EU Member State government budgets are under pressure, and that resources and opportunities for additional training are extremely limited, the Born Free Foundation does not believe they will have access to much-needed training and capacity-building in the near future.
Furthermore, recognising that the same authorities are required to implement and enforce different legislation regulating other facilities that keep wild animals in captivity, such as in circuses, travelling menageries, wild animal pets, and animals in trade, it is inevitable that similar failures in law enforcement are likely. Born Free’s long-term work to improve standards in the welfare of wild animals in captivity is documented under Europe’s Forgotten Animals Initiative.
The Born Free Foundation is therefore seeking other opportunities to build capacity and to improve the knowledge of Member State competent authorities. Otherwise, the poor conditions in thousands of European zoos, and other captive wild animal facilities, which Born Free continues to document, are unlikely to improve.