30th May 2012
On November 10th 1989 the Berlin Wall came down heralding the end of the Communist era. Living standards for most residents of Eastern Europe were to rise sharply over the following two decades, although this did not extend to conditions in some of Eastern Europe’s zoos.
As all levels of Government prioritised improving living conditions of their now liberated populations, zoo investment lagged behind. As a consequence of which, many animals are kept in conditions that are totally unsuitable for even their basic needs. The need to improve animal welfare conditions was the reason behind the 1999 EU Zoo’s Directive. However the current system of investigation and enforcement is still below par in many parts of Europe as highlighted in the 2011 Zoo Enquiry by The Born Free Foundation.
Ashley Fox, Conservative MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar, recently met with Dr Bryan Carroll, the Director of Bristol Zoo Gardens, to discuss how the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) can work with the Commission to drive up animal welfare standards across Europe.
“EAZA campaigns for constantly improving standards and contributions to conservation amongst its membership and would like to see consistent application of the EU Zoo’s Directive across member states,” commented Dr Carroll.
“EAZA members already abide by rigorous codes and standards and a full inspection process is in place. What we need is for the EU Commission to use our experience and work with us to improve animal welfare across Europe.”
Mr Fox, commenting after his meeting, said “I think the important thing to remember is that animal welfare failings may be concentrated in, but are not confined to, Eastern Europe. Zoos have an important part to play in species conservation and preservation, but we need to ensure that they are properly licensed, regulated and inspected.”
“I am delighted to say that Bristol Zoo is doing a fantastic job in this regard, and I want to work with Dr Carroll and members of EAZA to ensure that the EU Commission listens to a balanced debate and uses this kind of best practice to drive up zoo standards.”