Scathing report: 29 European zoos denounced for animal welfare

Insufficient space, dangerous enclosures, unsuitable food… The British Aspinall Foundation, which defends nature conservation, tackles the practices of around thirty European zoos in a report on Friday and denounces the complacency of the professional association of which they are members, EAZA. The foundation claims to have found more than 3,000 violations of existing rules regarding the treatment of animals in 29 zoos that it discreetly inspected over 18 months, all members of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA).

The latter brings together more than 400 establishments, mainly in Europe, whose mission is to “define and demonstrate excellence in species conservation, through a transparent and collaborative approach to population management, care and well-being wild animals,” according to its website. In total, the violations noted concern 162 species of mammals, assures the report.

“Elephants are victims of the greatest number of violations, ahead of rhinos, lions, tigers and giraffes,” details the report, which lists in particular “insufficient and unsuitable spaces, dangerous enclosures, absence of swimming pools. ”, or even “unsuitable food”, all elements “which represent situations that do not comply” with EAZA standards. Among the zoos where the most irregularities have been noted are those of Sosto and Budapest in Hungary, Madrid in Spain, the Boissières zoo in France (Loire-Atlantique) and the Valence Bioparc in Spain.

The facts observed “raise serious doubts about the capacity of the EAZA” to enforce its own standards among its members and to control their actions, the report further points out. “The ‘zoocrates’ who run these establishments are harming animals by creating the myth of conservation while showing a great lack of knowledge and care in the matter,” denounces Damian Aspinall, president of the foundation, quoted in a press release. This is a “betrayal of the public, animals and nature in general,” he adds, hoping that this report will provide a “start.”

In a reaction transmitted to theAFP, EAZA Director General Myfanwy Griffith denounced a report “which does not accurately represent the objectives and effectiveness of the accreditation program” of EAZA member zoos, and which “shows an erroneous understanding of the animal wellbeing”. She ensures that the association “relies on the best available science” in the matter and criticizes the foundation’s methodology.

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