IAR in talks about Europe's 'forgotten animals'
In mid-November members of the European Parliament, Commission officials, and Non Government Organisations (NGOs) met in Brussels to discuss what can be done to help Europe's 'forgotten animals'.
Max Farrugia from International Animal Rescue in Malta attended as a member of ENDCAP, a coalition of NGOs from various European countries working to raise standards for wild animals in captivity in Europe.
Daniel Turner, the spokesman for Endcap, explained that ENDCAP evidence gathered from more than 20 European countries clearly demonstrates that the conditions in some European zoos are appalling. Despite the European Zoo Directive, the welfare of hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of wild animals remains at risk.
Six years after the Directive came into force for 15 member states, its implementation and enforcement in many of the current 27 member states is defective and in some cases no more than cursory. Few member states appear to know the total number of zoos in their country, many lack the resources to train zoo personnel and zoo inspectors and the lack of specific provisions in the legislation has led to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.
Studies carried out by ENDCAP members in various countries concluded that a number of European countries fall short of meeting the minimum requirements, and there are others which operate without the required licences.
So far the European Commission has taken action against Spain for non-compliance with the Directive. However ENDCAP research shows that the problem is not limited to Spain and also exists in various other countries.
The Brussels meeting was also addressed by Mojca Drcar Murko, who stated that the Commission has included the Directive and the issue of the protection of wild animals in their Zoos 2010 plans. Other speakers were Caroline Lucas and Magor Csibi. Will Travers from Born Free Foundation closed the meeting. Prior to the meeting which was held within the European Parliament, ENDCAP members from 20 different countries discussed a draft report prepared by member NGOs from Malta, the UK, Greece and Germany dealing with the Standards for European Sanctuaries which include, among others, zoos, circuses, dolphinaria, falcon centres, and other public places which exhibit animals. In order to raise public awareness of 'the forgotten animals' in Europe, during the same evening ENDCAP launched a postcard campaign in favour of these animals. The coalition intends to collect thousands of petitions which will be forwarded to the Commissioner.