Wednesday, 9 September 2015

EU Zoos Directive – Good Practices Document published

 

The EU zoos directive was developed in 1999 to define what constitutes a zoo, and to emphasise the role of the zoo in conservation of biodiversity.





Image taken from EU Zoo Directive




A zoo was defined as “all permanent establishments where animals of wild species are kept for exhibition to the public for 7 or more days a year, with the exception of circuses, pet shops and establishments which Member States exempt from the requirements of this Directive on the grounds that they do not exhibit a significant number of animals or species to the public”


However no EU-wide legislation or directive currently exists to safeguard the welfare of zoo animals. To date, member state legislation has had only the guidance from Article 3 of the directive to guide their responsibilities to safeguarding animal health and welfare: “accommodating their animals under conditions which aim to satisfy the biological and conservation requirements of the individual species, inter alia, by providing species specific enrichment of the enclosures; and maintaining a high standard of animal husbandry with a developed programme of preventive and curative veterinary care and nutrition

The problem with this phrasing is that neither conservation, nor biological requirements of zoo species are defined, and no guidance is given as to what constitutes a high standard of animal husbandry, so the spectrum of husbandry actually delivered can be very variable.


To address these gaps, the EU Commission recently commissioned the production of a guidance document to standardise interpretation of the EU zoos directive. The welfare section of this document was primarily constructed by Leonor Galhardo, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh’s MSc Applied Animal behaviour and welfare programme, in partnership with Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE.

 
Zoo animal welfare is an exciting and rapidly developing field of research and practice” said Heather, “positive engagement with the zoo community is essential, not only for to deliver effective guidance on improving zoo animal welfare, but also, for helping us to understand the challenges faced by the zoo community

 

The Good Practice document can be download at:

 

ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/pdf/EU_Zoos_Directive_Good_Practices.pdf

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