Hope for better conditions of Wild Animals in Italian Zoos and Aquaria

The Italian ministry of environment promised
to end degrading shows with wild animals and to scrutinize the licences

A big step forward seems to be done for wild animals in Italian zoos and aquaria: after two years of activities by the Animal Welfare organisations LAV and Born Free the Italian government reacted with a formal letter. The confirmed to scrutinize the compliance of the zoos and aquaria with national and EU legislation. This means that the discovered shows and performances with animals will be stopped and the issued licenses will be proved and institutions infringing national or/and EU legislation will be closed.
This is the result of the campaign for wild animals initiated by LAV and Born Free Foundation. Since 2014 these Animal Welfare Organisations tabled five reports based on intensive research about their inquiries of zoos and aquaria in Italy, including photos and video documentation, to the Italian Minister of Environment. Not only the conditions of keeping the animals were mostly extraordinary poor and against the EU standards, they discovered and documented wild animals required to perform unnatural behaviors in unnatural settings such as parrots made to ride bicycles, chimpanzees to entertain the public dressed in clothes and delphins made jumping through hoops for food reward. Now finally the government has officially reacted. The ministry for environment stated that these shows in particular are an infringement of national legislation (Decreto no 73 of 2005) but also against the EU Directive for Zoos (1999/22/EC) and the Minister promised to stop the degrading shows with wild animals and to prove the issued licences and to withdraw them when necessary.
Since 1999 the EU Zoo Directive is valid – even it is an extraordinary short Directive it provides the Member States with clear obligations regarding zoos and comparable institutions and to implement adequate national legislation. And, more than this, in 2015 the EU Commission published the result of a study, a ‘good practices document’ to help the EU Member States to improve compliance with the EU Directive by concrete practical advice and giving species specific examples.
Again this situation confirms the important role of Animal Welfare Organisations in the field of enforcement of legislation on national and EU level. And of course LAV and Born Free will continue to improve the announced measures for compliance by the Italian Competent Authority.