Supporting better implementation of the Zoos Directive
The Zoos Directive (Council Directive 1999/22/EC) was adopted in 1999 with the objective to protect wild fauna and to conserve biodiversity, thereby strengthening the role of zoos as ex situ conservation entities in the conservation of biodiversity. The Directive responds to an ever growing need to halt biodiversity loss and as such implements CBD's (Convention on Biological Diversity) article 97, which requires CBD parties to adopt ex situ conservation measures, predominantly for the purpose of complementing in-situ measures. To achieve the Zoos Directive’s objectives, Member States have to establish competent authorities as well as a functional licencing and inspection system. However, factors still impeding more effective implementation of the Directive's provisions are mainly linked to the national licencing and inspection systems. The main issues are a lack of capacity (particularly a lack of specialist knowledge on zoo animals and conservation issues) and resources in Member States' competent authorities and a lack of cooperation between authorities at different levels. Negative knock-on effects are unlicensed but operational zoos, a lack of inventory of all establishments falling under the Directive, long licencing procedures, a lack of measurable criteria for Article 3 measures in zoo inspections, incomplete inspection forms not covering all Article 3 criteria and problems regarding closure of non-compliant zoos. Article 3 conservation requirements are: participation in research and/or training and/or exchange of information from which conservation objectives may be achieved, and/or, where appropriate, captive breeding, repopulation, or reintroduction of species into the wild; promotion of public education and awareness by providing information about the species exhibited and their natural habitats; accommodating the animals under conditions that aim to satisfy the biological requirements of the species by providing specific enrichment to the enclosures, as well as maintaining high standards of animal husbandry and veterinary preventive and curative care; preventing the escape of the animals; and keeping appropriate records of the zoo's collection.
Therefore, in order to improve implementation of the Zoos Directive, this project will be providing a forum for key zoo stakeholders to exchange knowledge, experience and best practice on different topics, by developing and organising pilot trainings for Member States' authorities and other relevant practitioners, particularly zoo managers, as well as by supporting Member States’ competent authorities in using peer-to-peer mechanisms to spread best practice and transfer of know-how on zoo licensing and inspection.
In the course of the EU project “Supporting better implementation of the Zoos Directive” that VetEffecT implemented with Milieu in 2019-2022, three activities were included:
- three annual stakeholder meetings in Brussels
- four pilot trainings will be organised for addressed to Member States' competent authorities and zoo operators
- Member States’ competent authorities will be supported to apply for peer-to-peer mechanisms to spread best practice and transfer of know-how on zoo licensing and inspection.
The stakeholder meetings were a follow-up action to the Zoos Directive evaluation, which was supported by an external study performed by VetEffecT and Milieu to help the Commission gather and assess relevant information and evidence. The Zoos Directive evaluation concluded that Member State and stakeholder meetings to exchange information, knowledge and best practices would benefit the Directive’s implementation. It is an ad hoc forum aimed at helping Member States and stakeholders in their implementation work. Participation in the meeting also provided an opportunity to learn more about and engage in other processes under the contract.
For each agenda topic, stakeholders were invited to discuss issues still impeding a better implementation and to suggest solutions how to improve. The aim was to enable the sharing of knowledge, information, and best practices to address remaining challenges and to identify possible mechanisms to strengthen cooperation and sharing of experience/expertise between Member State authorities and stakeholders. This may also link to the training and peer to peer initiatives under the contract.
The first stakeholder meeting was held on 18 February 2022 with the agenda topic of good practices in licensing and inspections. The second stakeholder meeting covered as main topics zoos’ contribution to conservation as well as actions towards non-compliant zoos and took place on 9 and 10 February 2021. Linking zoos’ conservation potential with the wider biodiversity agenda and zoos’ education and awareness raising potential were the main agenda topic of the third stakeholder meeting, which took place online on 26 March 2022.
Four live training sessions were meant to take place. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the first two live trainings were replaced by a virtual training consisting of six webinars and several pre-recorded sessions. The first two online training sessions were held in November-December 2020 and May 2021.The two online trainings consisted of six online webinars , each a maximum of 2 sessions each of approximately 1-1.5 hours and three pre-recorded sessions on record keeping, nutrition and staff training. Also, interactive sessions in break-out rooms were part of the second training. On average, 40 participants from 15 different Member States attended the online training sessions with approximately 30 from competent authorities and 10 from zoo associations.
The third and fourth training were in-person events on location. The third training was held from 22 – 24 February 2022 at Bioparc Valencia in Spain. The fourth and final training took place at Dublin Zoo in Ireland from 8 -10 March 2022.
The two live trainings programme lasted 3,5 days and were targeted at participants mostly from inspection authorities, as well as zoo managers. The topics were most important issues to facilitate proper implementation of the Zoos Directive such as inspection procedures and forms, inspection guidelines, procedures for closure of non-compliant zoos, evaluation of zoos' conservation and education performance and conservation projects, and assessment of the conditions under which the different animal species in a zoo are kept. The trainings were a mix of lectures, interactive sessions as well as field exercises, such as mock inspections of zoos premises. Participants were able to share good practice and be able to learn from each other. Upon completion of the training, participants received a certificate of attendance.
The trainings are an initiative of the European Commission DG ENV. This webpage has been produced under the contract “Supporting better implementation of the Zoos Directive” (Contract no. 07.0202/2019/805151/SER/ENV.D.3). The content of this page is the sole responsibility of VetEffecT Consultancy & Recruiting BV and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the Commission or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission or any other body of the European Union will not be responsible under any circumstances for the contents of communication items prepared by the contractors.