1 April 2012
News on Zoos: much more must be done to enforce standards in England’s zoos
As zoos and aquaria across England prepare for the summer season, a new report on how English zoos are implementing EU rules on animal welfare, conservation and public education will be launched today.
The Born Free Foundation surveyed 25 randomly sampled zoos across England to see whether they meet the requirements of national and European zoo law. The animal welfare charity also assessed the performance of Local Authorities in England which are required to enforce these requirements and to penalise the zoos when standards fall below required levels.
The report on England’s zoos published today as part of the EU Zoo Inquiry 2011 highlight that there is still much work to be done to improve living conditions for animals, provide meaningful educational information to the visiting public and actively promote the conservation of biodiversity and the protection of threatened species.
Daniel Turner, author of the Report and spokesperson for the Born Free Foundation, commented; “Whilst it was encouraging to see that England has been taking a lead in implementing the EU zoo legislation compared to many other countries across Europe, our report clearly shows that much more can, and must, be done to raise standards in many of our zoos. Improvements to the animals’ living conditions as well as education and conservation outputs are long overdue. “
Turner continued, “Findings indicate that Local Authorities, which are expected to physically license and regulate zoos in England, lack the time, funding and expertise to ensure our zoos meet required standards and meet public expectations.”
The England report is part of a pan-European project to evaluate the effectiveness and level of implementation and enforcement of European Council Directive 1999/22/EC (relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos), which has included similar investigations in 20 European Union (EU) countries. The EU Zoo Inquiry 2011, undertaken by the Born Free Foundation, has found a woeful lack of enforcement of legal requirements by authorities across Europe. This means that thousands of animals are being kept in substandard conditions that compromise their welfare, and in some cases, their very survival.
Born Free and European animal welfare associates are working with European Parliamentarians and the European Commission to seek solutions to address the Pan European failure of zoos to adequately protect the world’s biodiversity.
Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundation stated, “We must all work together in the interests of the animals and guarantee greatly improved welfare. This may require some tough decisions, such as whether zoos can suitably keep wide-ranging species or contribute in any significant measure to conserve global biodiversity, but what is clear, is that zoos in England (and European) must take immediate and meaningful measures to improve welfare, deliver valid public education and species conservation results”.
UK Liberal Democrat MEP Bill Newton-Dunn, who has worked closely with the Born Free Foundation to present the results of their Europe-wide studies in the European Parliament, commented:
"The Born Free Foundation report clearly shows that much more must be done to raise the standards of many of our zoos in terms of better living conditions for animals but also with regard to education and conservation.”
The Born Free Foundation will be co-hosting an event in the European Parliament on the evening of 24th April to highlight the findings of their EU-wide project, The EU Zoo Inquiry (www.euzooinquiry.eu), and to encourage support for higher standards in European zoos.
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