18 November 2013
Categories: Homepage News, Zoo Check Campaign News
New study reveals zoo licensing and inspection system is failing to guarantee essential animal welfare standards in Britain.
A new study carried out by researchers from the University of Bristol and the Born Free Foundation has assessed whether the current mandatory regime of zoo inspections is ensuring that British zoos meet minimum animal welfare standards. The researchers analysed inspection reports completed by Government-appointed Inspectors at 136 licensed zoos across Britain between 2005-2011 to assess how well they were complying with minimum animal welfare standards.
Zoos in England, Wales and Scotland are licensed under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, which requires them to meet minimum standards including those relating to animal welfare, conservation and education. Zoo Inspectors are required to assess whether zoos comply with these standards as part of site inspections which take place every three to four years.
The key findings of the study, published in the journal Animals, reveal that:
An earlier study published in 2012 looked at the assessment of animal welfare in British zoos by Government-appointed inspectors between 2005-2008 and found that only 27% of the licensed premises were assessed as meeting all the required animal welfare standards.
Will Travers OBE, CEO of the Born Free Foundation, said: “British zoos often claim to deliver higher standards than others around the world, but this study adds further weight to our conviction that we should not forget what is happening on our own doorstep. It is very concerning to see the range of problems that still afflict British zoos and their animals, and to discover that so many are failing to meet, let alone exceed, minimum animal welfare standards. It seems that the zoo licensing and inspection process, and the zoo industry itself, cannot guarantee the welfare of animals in British zoos, and it is time for a radical rethink regarding our approach to zoos in Britain.”
The Born Free Foundation is calling on the Government-appointed Zoos Expert Committee and the relevant licencing authorities in England, Wales and Scotland to consider this new evidence and bring forward urgent new measures to ensure that all licensed zoos are meeting their legal and moral obligations to the animals in their care and to the paying public.
Draper C, Browne W & Harris S (2013). Do Formal Inspections Ensure that British Zoos Meet and Improve on Minimum Animal Welfare Standards? Animals 3(4), 1058-1072;