Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

General Zoo Information

All zoos in the EU are required to be licensed and receive regular inspection to ensure they comply with the licensing requirements.

A zoo, as defined by the Directive, should not have its license granted, refused, extended or amended until an inspection by the Member States’ competent authorities has been carried out to determine whether the facility in question complies with the licensing conditions. The Directive states that if a zoo is not licensed in accordance with the Directive, or licensing conditions are not met, the zoo, or part thereof, should either be closed or given a period of time (not exceeding two years) to comply. Failure to comply should result in closure.

“every zoo shall have a licence within four years after the entry into force of this Directive or, in the case of new zoos, before they are open to the public.”

 “If the zoo is not licensed in accordance with this Directive or licensing conditions are not met, the zoo or part thereof: (a) shall be closed to the public by the competent authority. . .

(Art. 4, Par. 2. European Council Directive 1999/22/EC)

As part of the study, information on the licensing status of zoos and their regulation was requested from the Member State’s Competent Authority, by way of the Standard Member State Questionnaire. Furthermore details about the activities undertaken by the zoos were requested from those selected zoos, by way of the Standard Zoo Questionnaire.”

In addition, Section A of the Zoo Assessment Protocol recorded other general information about the zoo including: location; ownership (private or public), membership of a zoo affiliation; any free-roaming species in the zoo; the sale of animal feed; supervised human/animal contact; availability of hand-washing facilities; existence of a secure perimeter fence; visible public safety measures. 

Preventing the escape of non-native species

Preventative measures to stop the escape of non-native animals into the native environment are given importance in the Directive, national zoo legislation and within other European policy (Shine et al., 2009).

“preventing the escape of animals in order to avoid possible ecological threats to indigenous species and preventing intrusion of outside pests and vermin,”                                                                                                
(Art. 3. European Council Directive 1999/22/EC)

The threat of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) and particularly, DAISIE-listed species is significant, particularly if the zoo has a number of free-roaming species¹; inadequate perimeter fencing; or unsecure enclosure fencing (Fabregas et al., 2010). Furthermore, contact between non-native and native species can facilitate the transmission of disease. 

Measures taken by zoos to prevent animals escaping and to restrict the intrusion of outside pests² and vermin were assessed by:

1) Recording the presence and condition of the perimeter fence surrounding the zoo and assessing the likelihood of captive animals escaping and its effectiveness in restricting the intrusion of pests, and

2) Recording the presence or signs of pests within the enclosures.




Animal Contact

Contact between animals and humans can present a risk of injury and the transmission of zoonotic diseases (any infectious disease that can be transmitted from non-human animals, both wild and domestic, to humans or from humans to non-human animals).

Evaluating the measures taken by zoos to restrict contact between zoo animals and the public was assessed by:

1) Recording the number of free-roaming animals observed in the zoo,

2) Recording activities in the zoo where the public are allowed to come into direct contact with the animals,

3) Recording the number of enclosures where members of the public could come into unsupervised direct contact with animals, especially potentially ‘hazardous’ species. ‘Hazardous’ animals were identified using the “Hazardous Animal Categorisation” from the SMZP. This reference provided a more detailed and complete assessment than that provided in the EAZA Standards for the Accommodation and Care of Animals in Zoos and Aquaria, which appears to lack detail for some taxa commonly held in zoos.

4) Noting the presence or absence of warning signs, and 

5) Noting the presence of hand-washing facilities and whether visitors were encouraged to wash their hands after supervised animal contact sessions.

¹Animals that have been deliberately introduced to the zoo grounds and that are free to move throughout the zoo.

²Animal species which have characteristics that are considered by humans as injurious or unwanted

See also general information section of The Zoo Assessment Protocol

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

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