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 included veterinarians and enforcement agencies that are required to inspect zoos and safeguard the welfare of animals.
As a result of these findings, Born Free recently invited all EU Member State competent authorities to participate in a survey to seek to identify their capacity-building and training needs. The findings have indicated the following:
- The implementation and enforcement of animal protection legislation is divided between numerous government departments and services. For example, at least two government departments are involved in the regulation of zoos and aquaria, circuses and travelling exhibitions, the keeping of wild animals as companions, and the regulation of wildlife in trade, as well as numerous government agencies.
- There is only partial knowledge and an inconsistent understanding across the EU Member State competent authorities concerning the requirements of the legislation for which they are responsible.
- Competent authorities, in particular services that inspect facilities to ensure they comply with legal requirements, lack sufficient knowledge and expertise.
- 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.
- 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, 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.
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, which Born Free continues to document, are unlikely to improve.
See the findings of the Member State survey - PDF version (900kb)