Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

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Capacity-building and Development

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:

  1. The implementation and enforcement of animal protection legislation is undertaken by numerous government departments and agencies, with differing competencies. For example, zoos are usually regulated by services within the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture, but in some Member States, other government departments are involved. This undoubtedly hinders effective communication.
  2. There is only partial knowledge and an inconsistent understanding across the EU Member State competent authorities concerning the implementation of the legislation for which they are responsible.
  3. Competent authorities, in particular enforcement services that inspect facilities to ensure they comply with legal requirements, lack sufficient knowledge and expertise.
  4. State or regional veterinary authorities lack vital knowledge relating to the appropriate keeping of different species of wild animal and do not have the ability to assess their welfare.
  5. Competent authorities welcome training and additional guidance, in particular in the assessment, development and application of housing and husbandry requirements for different species of wild animal, as well as in the evaluation of conservation programmes and the development of effective inspection procedures.

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.

Download the report here

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

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