An investigation undertaken by the Eurogroup for Animals in 2006 discovered that just FOUR Member States had ensured that their zoos were properly licensed. Directive 1999/22EC was passed following a report prepared for the European Commission back in 1998 which described many of Europe's zoos as animal slums.
The Directive was finally implemented in April 2002 to ensure that the EU would fulflill its obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity and it was supposed to require Member States to license and regularly inspect zoos. Such acts would ensure that animals were kept in conditions which satisfied their biological and conservation requirements.
The problems as they are with the Directive
It needs amending - currently provisions lead to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.
Many countries' Members have no idea how many zoos exist in their own nations; and many lack the resources to properly train zoo directors and personnel.
Provision needs to be made to ensure that standards of animal welfare and keeper training are significantly improved.
Mojca Drcar Mukro MEP, who represents the Alliance of Liberal Democrats for Europe (ALDE) commented that the Commission has included the Directive and issue of protecting wild animals in zoos on their 2010 plans.
Since the Zoos Directive was drafted, people are more knowledgeable and concerned about animal welfare in zoos. The Commission needs to respond to the public mood and recognise the current inconsistencies in enforcing the Directive.
Mojca Drcar Mukro said, "Such a positive move is consistent with the Commission's Action Plan for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006 - 2010 and could ultimately deliver the welfare benefits the animals so urgently need and the public have a right to expect."
Revising the European Zoos Directive to improve its interpretation and enforcement is a vital part of the process in improving the wellbeing of all animals in European zoos.
More about ENDCAP
ENDCAP is a pan-European coalition of NGOs. It specialises in the protection and welfare of wild animals in captivity and to put an end to scenes like the one to the right.
The Aims of ENDCAP are:
To ensure the Directive is properly implemented and enforced in all 27 Member States.
To call on the Commission to establish guidelines of best practice to aid National and Regional Governments, and the zoos themselves, to best interpret the requirements and to raise the standards in animal care and husbandry.
Revision of the Directive to include further animal welfare provision by incorporating the Five Freedoms and other amendments to strengthen and improve the Directive
The Five Freedoms of Animals are:
Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
Freedom from Discomfort
Freedom from pain, Injury or Disease
Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour
Freedom from Fear and Distress.
Photos courtesy of the Bornfree Foundation, which is a member of ENDCAP. For more info on the work the Bornfree Foundation is doing with zoos, click here.