The Animal Rights Law promoted by the Minister of United We Can Ione Belarra contemplates the creation of a “positive list of companion animals”. It is a catalog where the legal species as pets will be listed. If this rule is approved in the Congress of Deputies, those that do not appear in such compendium will be illegal, and must be seized for conservation in zoos or aquariums.
This is detailed to EL ESPAÑOL by the president of the Iberian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AIZA), Javier Almuniaafter analyzing the proposal of the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2023. In his opinion, such a circumstance can generate two problems: the absence in the list of wild animals that may be likely to inhabit houses and the saturation of the spaces to which they are sent.
“If this rule is applied, Spain can be the first country in Europe with a list of animals that can be kept“, he exposes. According to him, such an operation is “controversial”, since the forgetting of species on this list will make their possession irregular. In addition, this delicate list should be prepared by a ministry that is not an expert in animals, such as that of Social Rights “Perhaps it would have been easier to make a negative list, with animals that cannot be kept at home,” he argues.
Regarding the possible saturation of the centers, Almunia stresses that “in article 32.5 it is mentioned that the competent authorities may make seized wild animals available to zoos, but no type of mechanism is established by which the acceptance of said animals”.
“As already argued to the technicians of the General Directorate of Animal Rights, this could involve the intervention of many specimens of wild animals that citizens currently keep in their private homes (iguanas, snakes, parrots, small mammals, etc. ) and an avalanche of these animals towards the zoos”, anticipates the manager.
Almunia makes ugly that “the article simply proposes that zoos be maintenance centers for seized specieswithout setting limits, and exposing them to overpopulation that could affect their ability to work in conservation (required by Directive 1999/22/EC and Law 31/2003)”.
In addition, he believes that “the overpopulation of zoos and aquariums with seized species of no conservation value would take away resources (space, funds, personnel, etc.) that should be dedicated to species with global and regional conservation problems.”
“To be repositories of seized animals, zoos and aquariums must be able to guarantee that they have adequate space for each species, and that they can provide the necessary care to guarantee their well-being,” he warns. In his opinion, zoos and aquariums should “collaborate with the authorities voluntarily, provided they have adequate and sufficient space and resources.”
Almunia also detects “a possible error” that he believes “should be corrected.” “Article 32.1 prohibits keeping, breeding and trade of wild animals that are not on the positive list of pets. On the other hand, article 32.2 exempts the prohibition of captive breeding in zoos in the programs provided for in Law 31/2003, but the possession and exchange of these species is not excepted.
“This would lead to the paradox that species could be bred, but not kept in zoos. Furthermore, would make it impossible to exchange specimens between zoos to maintain the genetic diversity of the population (essential for conservation) or well-being (avoided overpopulation of specimens)”, explains the representative of the zoos and aquariums of the Iberian Peninsula.
Beyond such assessments, AIZA celebrates that “the Bill has a very limited effect on the association’s zoos and aquariums, which already work based on the conservation, research and education programs established by Law 31/2003 (known as Zoo Law), as established in article 32 of the new Preliminary Draft”.
Such a circumstance contrasts with the alarm generated initially, when the ministry slipped that the rule pursues the reconversion of zoos and dolphinariums into recovery centers for native species. “It’s not exactly like that, in fact, the latest draft makes no mention of dolphins or any cetacean,” says Almunia. “Only small zoos without conservation programs will have problems. Yes, non-native animals collected by conservation programs may be raised“, he corrects.
“In any case, from the association we are going to proceed to a deeper and more detailed analysis of the document, to assess whether there are other aspects that may directly or indirectly affect the operation of zoos and aquariums, and especially the activities of conservation, research and environmental education included in Law 31/2003”, concludes the president of AIZA.
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