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FOUR PAWS demands

FOUR PAWS Position

VIER PFOTEN tolerates the keeping of wild animals in zoos, if the animals are accommodated permanently free of pain, suffering and behavioural disturbances. The risk of injuries and illnesses arising from being kept in captivity must be minimised, adequate measures must be taken or if necessary promptly implemented. The keeping of species in captivity, which cannot be accommodated in accordance with these requirements due to their biological characteristics, is incompatible with animal protection.


The mode of operation of VIER PFOTEN aims to improve the animal protection in zoos step by step. This can come to pass through the taking over or placement of animals, strengthening the role of zoos as receiving stations, the improvement of enclosures, and knowledge exchange with regard to species appropriate keeping as well as education of the public.


Demands on zoos from an animal protection point of view:

•  The zoo must be scientifically managed in accordance with the latest knowledge zoobiological knowledge and must also be permanently scientifically supervised. The management team must be scientifically educated and possess a professional specialisation for zoo animals.

•  The zoo must implement a consistent animal register, able to be accessed by the public / animal protection organisations at all times, in which the lives of admissions and departures as well as medical care are documented.

•  The zoo renounces the purchase of animals caught in the wild or the bred animals resulting from such captured animals.

•  The zoo must ensure species appropriate keeping of all the animals in captivity in accordance with the most up-to-date scientific knowledge and must continually improve the keeping environment. Visitor oriented requirement, such as the visual design of the enclosures, feeding shows, etc., are subordinate to this aim.

•  The zoo renounces the new acquisition of exotic species solely for the purposes of expanding the species spectrum and the earnings.

•  If necessary, the zoo will successively reduce the diversity of species in favour of species appropriate keeping of the remaining animals. This can occur through natural departures such as placement in better equipped zoos.

•  Long-term zoos renounce the keeping of species whose natural living requirements with regard to territory size, food acquisition and prey catching behaviour, social structure, climatic demands, day-night rhythms and so on are not able to be sufficiently taken into consideration in captivity (e.g. large predators, elephants, apes, whales).

•  In general, zoos should place more emphasis on suitable presentations of domestic and domesticated species of animals.

•  Zoos must keep space available for animals that have been kept in bad conditions (e.g. following impoundment).

•  For planned breeding, zoos must first prove their actual need and that they have sufficient space available. Surplus young animals may not be killed or sold onwards to animal traders.

•  VIER PFOTEN welcomes contributions from zoos towards species protection in principle. Before the execution of conservation breeding must substantiate a realistic expectation for the subsequent releasing of the animals into their natural habitat4. The selection of the species is to be made in connection with the degree of endangerment, not in connection with popularity. Zoos support projects for the protection of endangered species in their habitats (in situ). The conservation of a zoo population that is genetically able to survive is in itself no contribution to species protection.

•  The zoo provides didactically well created educational work and comprehensively and critically informs about every species presented. Visitors are sensitised to animal, nature and species protection themes in connection with the keeping of animals in captivity.