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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Damning report on Cypriot zoos ]

Damning report on Cypriot zoos

Author: 
Patrick Dewhurst

A DAMNING report into Cypriot zoos has revealed inadequate welfare standards, unacceptable health risks to humans and a failure by all to meet EU or government standards.

The report, released yesterday by the Born Free Foundation, identified at least one - and in most cases several critical failings - in all nine Cypriot zoos during August 2009.

At this time, there was only one licensed zoo in Cyprus, the Paphos Bird and Animal Park, however a further eight establishments, which met with the EU definition of a zoo, were also identified.

Under the definition, a ‘zoo’ is described as “a permanent establishments where animals of wild species are kept for exhibition to the public for seven or more days in a year, with the exception of circuses and pet shops”

The Cypriot zoos have 680 enclosures in total, of which “44 per cent did not appear to meet the requirements of the Animal Protection Ordinance of Switzerland (APOS) and none of the zoos fully complied with the Cypriot animal protection legislation,” the report said.

Furthermore, the report identified “a failure to meet animal welfare standards, to prevent escape of non indigenous species or to provide a suitable environment” in many of the zoos.

In addition to the animals’ hazardous living conditions, the report also describes the risks to human visitors, especially ‘zoonoses’: diseases that can be transmitted from vertebrate animals to humans.

It says: “Zoos in Cyprus are failing to take all preventative measures to sufficiently protect the public from potential injury and the transmission of disease”

The main reasons for this assessment were poor enclosure design, a lack of stand-off barriers and a shortage of available zoo staff often placed the public at risk of injury.

For example, in one case visitors were “easily able to come into direct contact with dangerous species including spotted hyenas and hamadryas baboons.”

Under EU legislation, zoos are obliged to establish strategies to effectively conserve biodiversity and provide meaningful education to the public about wild animals and their conservation – which was not the case according the report

“The commitment to and standard of education in all zoos was minimal. 79 per cent of species holdings lacked informational signage and 95 per cent of signs did not contain all the best practice criteria.”

Cyprus Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA) President Toulla Poyadji welcomed the publication of the report yesterday, saying: “The CSPCA has tried for years to persuade the competent authorities - the agriculture ministry and veterinary services - to enforce the law, but they don’t seem interested.”

Poyadji is set to meet Attorney-General Petros Clerides to discuss the lack of enforcement of EU legislation concerning the housing and sale of exotic animals.

“I don’t understand why these people don’t feel any shame. This looks very bad for Cyprus.”

Born Free have made a series of recommendations to the agriculture ministry and the veterinary service in order to bring Cyprus into line with European regulations, including revisions to Cypriot law, establishing a licensing procedure and regular inspections by qualified enforcement personnel.

The Cyprus report is part of a Europe wide zoo investigation into the licensing and performance of zoos across the EU. It has revealed the systemic failure of governments, competent authorities and enforcement agencies to ensure that zoos meet their legal obligations to species conservation, education and animal welfare. Reports have so far been completed for Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece Republic of Ireland, and Romania.

 

For more information visit http://www.bornfree.org.uk/campaigns/zoo-check/zoos/eu-zoo-inquiry/



(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.



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