06.05.2010 – On 5th May, in a decisive vote, the European Parliament in Brussels backed the Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals that will define the future of animal protection in Europe. The majority of Members of the European Parliament voted to establish the 5-year Action Plan proposing improved welfare standards for all animals under the control of human beings in the Europe Union. Welcomed by the European coalition of NGOs, ENDCAP, that works to improve the protection of wild animals in captivity in countries throughout Europe, the Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals, for the first time, will include the protection of wild animals in zoos and circuses.
Daniel Turner, spokesperson for ENDCAP, stated, “The European public is acutely aware of the poor conditions endured by millions of animals kept in zoos, circuses, dolphinaria and kept as pets throughout Europe. The sub-standard conditions that ENDCAP works tirelessly to address, have mainly resulted from an inability by Governments to effectively enforce existing legislation”, explains Mr. Turner. “ENDCAP’s investigations have revealed that a lack of relevant knowledge and expertise by the competent authorities has meant that levels in animal welfare, particularly for wild animals in captivity, remain low. The Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals will help to facilitate knowledge and create a common understanding of animal welfare and how to apply it.”

Although the EC Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals is not legislation, it does set the framework for future progress by recognising that high quality animal protection is required for all animals, regardless of their circumstances.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development had already recommended that animal welfare be considered as central to all future EU policy-making. The Committee Report by Marit Paulsen MEP also recommended the establishment of an Animal Welfare Law and a European Network of Reference Centres that will ensure all animals are provided their basic welfare needs, regardless of the way they are used.

ENDCAP’s lobbying at the European Parliament over the last 12 months has proved remarkably successful. The vote yesterday will ensure that the new Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2011-2015 will aim to improve welfare standards for “all livestock and animals in captivity, such as food-producing animals, pets, circus animals and animals in zoos or stray animals” in Europe and beyond.  

“I’m feeling quite overwhelmed, this is incredible news,” concluded spokesperson for animal public, Laura Zimprich. “animal public together with our ENDCAP colleagues have been working flat-out in Brussels and throughout Europe to ensure we have support from European Members of Parliament.  The positive vote demonstrates that European citizens are united in their wish to finally see an end to slum conditions in zoos.” 

ENDCAP continues to meet with Members of the European Parliament, the European Commission and representatives of the 27 European countries in Brussels to further secure their commitment to the protection of wild animals in captivity, previously marginalised.  It is evident from ENDCAP’s recent major investigation of Europe’s zoos that many thousands of animals are kept in sub-standard conditions.

ENDCAP is a coalition of over 30 Non-Government Organisations from over 20 European countries. Working within European countries and in Brussels, ENDCAP seeks to improve the lives of wild animals in zoos, circuses, dolphinaria, sanctuaries and those kept as pets through scientific investigation, campaigning and education. For more information on ENDCAP, www.endcap.eu