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Wild Animals in Captivity Conference


New chapter for the welfare of captive wild animals - Expert conference calls for comprehensive action

As result of a two day conference on the welfare of wild animals in captivity, wild life experts call on the EU to support higher standards for these animals, proper enforcement of existing legislation and adequate training.

From 19-20 June 2013, the animal welfare organisations VIER PFOTEN /FOUR PAWS and the Born Free Foundation hold a conference on the welfare, law and enforcement of wild animals in captivity in the Representation of the State of Lower-Saxony to the EU. Supported by the NGO Humane Society International (HSI), the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) and the European Coalition ENDCAP, the organisers gathered more than 100 delegates, representing the EU institutions, the Member States, the animal welfare industry, zoos, academia and other interest groups. The aim of the conference was to share knowledge, discuss problems, examine examples of good practice and identify workable solutions on the EU and the national level to improve the lives of wild animals in captivity across the European Union.




The conference partners: Will Travers (CEO Born Free Foundation), Marlene Wartenberg (Director of the European Policy Office of VIER PFOTEN), Christophe Buhot (President of FVE), Joanna Swabe (EU Director HSI), Heli Dungler (President VIER PFOTEN International)
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Hundreds of thousands of wild animals are being housed in poor to appalling conditions, which fail to meet their most basic of needs. Such conditions cause anguish amongst members of the public who write in their thousands to raise concerns about the poor welfare standards for animals in captivity, but little action has been taken by European governments to address citizens’ concerns and improve standards.

A harmonisation of minimum housing standards not only for farm animals but also for wild animals is needed. „This builds the base for a common European understanding of the human-animal relationship”, says Marlene Wartenberg, Director European Policy Office VIER PFOTEN in Brussels. “The common understanding of animal welfare in Europe is, since the Lisbon Treaty and Art 13, the recognition of animals as sentient beings. A clear ban of wild animals in circuses correlates with this understanding.”


Even the European Commission acknowledged with the EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015, the need to include provisions relating to the welfare and protection of wild animals in captivity. Although the responsibility for regulating animal protection laws resides with the Member States, investigations, such as those undertaken as part of the EU Zoo Inquiry, revealed that Competent Authorities are under-resourced, lack specific knowledge and do not have the expertise necessary to bring about the changes anticipated by the EU Zoos Directive.

The conference in the Representation of the State of Lower-Saxony to the EU
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The conference gave a first step into the right direction. As a result of the discussions, the delegates agreed that a new common strategy is needed and joint work to improve the welfare of wild animals in captivity. "Europe's forgotten animals, the millions of wild animals that languish in zoos, circuses, rescue centres, sanctuaries and that are kept as exotic 'pets' are no longer forgotten. From this moment forward the powerful combination of Member State representatives, EU officials, parliamentarians, wildlife professionals, veterinarians and animal advocates will be leading the effort to secure effective, practical measures to end the suffering. I invite everyone who cares about the plight of captive wild animals to join us", says Will Travers CEO of the Born Free Foundation.

The conference results (presentations and conclusions will soon be available here).