As Romania and Bulgaria enter the European Union (1.1.07) the impact of the EU Zoo Directive is being felt. There are hundreds of animals in the countries’ zoos, many of which may never meet the standards required by European Zoo Law. The Directive states that if zoos fail to meet the requirements than the zoo must close. The long term welfare implications of the law are welcomed by many, including Born Free which started to campaign for European Zoo Legislation at the end of the 1980s. Hopefully this will result in the closure of some of Europe’s worst zoos. However with closure comes the need to find alternative homes for the animals and to address the issues of resulting unemployment. Realistic and sensible solutions need to be sought, and this is where Born Free hopes to be able to help.
The extent of the problem is only too evident in Romania where many of its 36 zoos are failing to meet even the minimal requirements set by the European and national zoo law. As indicated in the Mail on Sunday’s report, ‘Romanian Zoo animals facing slaughter … thanks to the EU’ (7/1/07), the majority of animals are kept in appalling conditions: limited space; no environmental enrichment; no conservation or education programmes; and no availability of money or expertise to see future improvement. Such conditions fall well below the legal requirements and as indicated by the Mail on Sunday, many displaced animals could face death as zoos are forced to close.
The Born Free Foundation is only too familiar with this problem, having rescued a number of animals from failing zoos in the past and acknowledges the difficulty in finding suitable housing elsewhere. However, together with the Romanian Alliance for the Protection of Animals (APAR), Born Free is keen to seek viable solutions to improve the lives of Romania’s zoo animals and ensure expertise and funding is made available to help the authorities ensure the animals face a more tolerable future. The Born Free Foundation has teamed up with the Mail on Sunday to raise the profile of the plight of captive wild animals in Romania and raise funds to help alleviate their suffering.
If you can help, please contact Zoo Check at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone Zoo Check on 01403 240170.