Edition 1433
22 July 2017
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Born Free investigation pans Portugal’s zoos

in News · 05-05-2012 00:00:00 · 0 Comments

A study by non-governmental organisation Born Free into European zoos standards has panned Portugal’s zoos after it found that the majority of them “appear to give little consideration to the essential biological, spatial and behavioural needs of the animals.”

Born Free investigation pans Portugal’s zoos

In its report, Born Free said that on average, 81 percent of the enclosures evaluated in Portugal “failed to meet all the minimum requirements” set by European law.
Other points highlighted in the report’s findings were that three zoos kept free-roaming DAISIE-listed ‘alien’ species, which DAISIE (Delivering Alien Invasive Species In Europe) describes as “one of the greatest threats to the ecological and economic well-being of the planet”; two of those zoos did not have a perimeter fence capable of enclosing an escaped animal, and one of the zoos did not lock many of its enclosures containing wild, non-indigenous species.
Regarding animal shows in national zoos, Born Free said that the majority, “particularly those involving parrots and marine animals, consisted of animals conditioned to displaying anthropomorphic [human-like] and distorted behaviours aimed at entertaining and humouring the viewing public, rather than providing an educational experience”, which is also in breech of European directive requirements.
Two main water shows evaluated by Born Free were those staged at the dolphinaria of Lisbon Zoo and at the Zoormarine Park in Guia, Albufeira (Algarve).
Born Free inspected a total of ten zoos throughout Portugal, observing and assessing a total of 495 species in 459 enclosures.
Overall it concluded licensed zoos in Portugal are not fully compliant with the two main European directives that govern such infrastructures, while others are operating unlicensed.
“Individually there is much variance between the zoos, with some meeting the majority of requirements, whilst others were substandard in all parameters assessed.”
Among the recommendations made as a result of the investigation, Born Free proposed that animal presentations should be discouraged, but where these do take place “zoos must ensure that all presentations only focus on natural behaviour and biological facts.
“Anthropomorphic and comic performances should be prohibited as required by the European Association for Aquatic Mammals (EAAM 1995). Existing animal presentations which consist of unnatural behaviour, involve disciplined training regimes or are accompanied by music should cease.”
Born Free, which was established over 20 years ago, urged Portugal’s Institute of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (ICNB) to revise the guidelines that were drawn up to govern European zoos and ensure they are upheld and readily available, and encouraged Portuguese zoos to join AIZA (the Iberian Association for Zoos and Aquaria) and EAZA (the European Association for Zoos and Aquaria).
Signage and educational opportunities also left a lot to be desired, according to the association’s assessment.
It pointed out that some animals were housed in “unacceptably unhygienic conditions”, the main problems including the build-up of faeces, stagnant water, litter and uneaten, rotten food. The report highlighted the case of a brown fur seal in Zoo da Maia, which had cigarette ends in its enclosure and flooded and stagnated water in the capybara enclosure in Lagos’ Zoo, where animals had also uncovered and chewed through an electric cable.
Regarding the overall environmental quality of enclosures Portuguese zoos achieved a mark of 100 percent for ‘sufficient ventilation for all animals’, but scored just above the 70 percent mark for ‘appropriate environments for all animals to properly exercise’, the area needing most improvement, followed by ‘enclosure conditions which represent a risk to the well-being of all animals’, which fell just short of the 80 percent mark.
Born Free’s report concluded that, “These findings raise serious concerns about the competency or perhaps the will of the authorities to effectively enforce the requirements of [European zoo directive] D59/2003 and, in particular, compel substandard zoos to either meet requirements or face closure.”
It further highlighted: “Portuguese zoo legislation appears to be failing to take preventative measures to protect the public against potential injury and disease. Zoos should be required to take a far greater responsibility for the safety of the visiting public.”
Carrie-Marie Bratley

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Edition 1433
22 July 2017
Edition: 1433

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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