Only 1 Belgian zoo complies with animal welfare laws

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A recent study carried out by the animal rights group shows only one in 15 zoos complies with laws designed to protect wild animals.

20 August 2008

BELGIUM – Only one of Belgium's 15 zoos complies with laws designed to protect wild animals that are held in captivity, according to a study carried out by the animal rights group GAIA.

Members of GAIA visited the zoos during the past 12 months to see if they respect legislation designed to ensure animal welfare and visitor safety. The educational value of the zoos was also looked at by GAIA.

Only the wildlife park at Saint-Hubert in Luxembourg province was found to comply with laws designed to ensure the welfare of its animals.

All seven Flemish zoos were found to have shortcomings. Even the prestigious Planckendael Animal Park near Mechelen in Antwerp province was found to be lacking in certain areas.

Aviflora in Ingelmunster (West Flanders) and Malter Park near Ghent were found to be the worst when it comes to caring for the welfare of their animals.

Behavioural problems
GAIA's Michel Vandenbosch told the VRT that animals were found to suffering behavioural problems in 11 of the 15 zoos visited.

Vandenbosch added that government inspectors simply aren't strict enough when they visit zoos.

"We've noticed that although zoos have broken the rules, they are still allowed to acquire new animals."

"It's easy for them to say that they've got no money. They acquire extra animals, while they don't have the correct facilities to care for the ones they've already got."

Although the situation has improved at Bellewaerde, Planckendael and Antwerp Zoo, a number of enclosures were still found to be too small.
Antwerp Zoo has reacted by saying that it will take GAIA's comments on board.

The zoo's management says that it is actively looking for a solution of the problems posed by animals living in enclosures that are too small.

Meanwhile, Olmen Zoo refused to comment on the criticism level at it by GAIA in the report.

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