An orangutang at the Berlin zoo. Photo: achschav via Instagram
Animal welfare groups and German zoos have been working together to fix minimum standards for the keeping of animals. An assessment, a kind of catalogue, launched earlier this month is meant to be the definitive reference point for German zoos both large and small, game preserves, and for private individuals who keep wild animals.
How big does a giraffe-run need to be? What are the best foods for baboons and how should they be presented? New scientific knowledge, a new law on the protection of species, and European Union guidelines all had to be taken into account in this updated version, as did the fact that there are now some new species in captivity that zoos didn’t have when the last assessment was written in the late 1990s.
Reservations were expressed by both groups and suggestions for improvement, which, had they not been included in the report, would have meant that it was not signed by either group, reported Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Although the amount of run space for many species was increased — four giraffes now have a right to 1000 instead of 500 square meters, for example — the new rules don’t go far enough for the animal welfare advocates.
Photo: Jim Wells/QMI Agency/ZUMA
They had also wanted a review of whether certain animals like polar bears, great apes and dolphins should be held in captivity at all. James Brückner of the German Animal Protection League noted that the zoos tended to fulfill only the bare minimum of requirements and were resisting having to adjust their standards to the levels of other European countries, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.
"The assessment is a compromise," said Theo Pagel, President of the Union of German Zoo Directors.
While the animal activists and the zoo representatives were unable to agree on so much, many chapters in the report had to be finished by some of the impartial observers, such as vets and scientists, who were also a part of this updating process.