Possible breach of Directive 1999/22/EC relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos in Galicia

20 January 2014


Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE) 

In the course of the past few years there has been a continual stream of well-founded complaints in Galicia regarding non-compliance with both EU and Spanish law on the conservation of wildlife in zoos and aquariums. In this regard, the Galician Government does not appear to have adopted the necessary measures to ensure that the sites open to the public pursue proper conservation programmes instead of merely allowing research or other types of studies that fail to support actual conservation of species that are really threatened to some degree with extinction.

It does seem paradoxical that there are zoos in Galicia containing, among their collections of fauna, species that are extinct in the wild, although this situation apparently does not matter enough for them to develop conservation programmes. It is also surprising that a zoo can set free animals considered to be dangerous so that the public can touch them, and that this should be offered as an attraction for potential customers.

Animal rights organisations such as Libera and the Fondation Franz Weber (which manages two national parks in Togo and Cameroon, where species are protected that are of particular importance for biodiversity, such as elephants) have highlighted the need for zoos to get involved in ex situ conservation, with the promotion of initiatives to fight against poachers and the loss of the planet’s natural resources.

1. Is the Commission aware of the non-compliance with Directive 1999/22/EC in Galicia?

2. Is the Commission aware of the complaints lodged in this regard with respect to the attraction of animals that can be touched in Galician zoos? If so, and bearing in mind the gravity of this situation, is the Commission planning to take any action?

3. Is the Commission considering adopting any measures to update EU regulations on zoos? 

6 March 2014


Answer given by Mr Potočnik on behalf of the Commission

The Commission is aware of past complaints which led the European Union Court of Justice to declare, in December 2010, that Spain had failed to fulfil its obligations on licencing and inspections under the Zoos Directive(1) in several regions, including Galicia. However, the Spanish authorities have since adopted all the necessary measures in relation to all the concerned zoological establishments, including those in Galicia. The Commission has no evidence of a current infringement of the Zoos Directive in Galicia.

An evaluation of the Zoos Directive is foreseen under the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme(2) (REFIT) of the Commission. Until this is completed the Commission is not considering any measures to update the directive.

(1) Council Directive 1999/22/EC relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos, OJ L 94, 9.4.1999.
(2) COM(2013) 685 final.