Colchester Zoo joins call for an end to red tape swamp hampering conservation

Colchester Zoo has joined over 75 other conservation organisations on the 3 year anniversary of Brexit to call on Government to end the endless red tape preventing conservation breeding.  

An open letter to the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calls on British Government to negotiate with the European Commission and enable the transfer of zoo animals between Britain and the EU. Conservation breeding programmes are essential to many species but are threatened by overwhelming bureaucracy as animal transfer systems have not been replaced when leaving the EU. Colchester Zoo care for over 160 species including endangered Amur leopards and Amur tigers as well as Orangutan and Rhino to name a few.

Colchester Zoo has joined over 75 zoos, aquariums and conservationists by calling for UK Government to negotiate an agreement with the EU commission to allow for the transfer of zoo/aquarium animals between Britain and the EU. The open letter, issued to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, has been signed by zoos, aquariums, safari parks and animal sanctuaries including ZSL London Zoo, Colchester Zoo and Blackpool Zoo.

Since leaving the EU, zoo animal transfers have plummeted by 85%, transfers are down from 1400 transfers per year, to just over 200. This threatens conservation breeding programmes which rely on carefully planned transfers of animals between zoos and aquariums, to maintain healthy populations of species across Europe. Colchester Zoo has experienced delays and cancellations of animal transfers due to delays in receiving Export Health Certificates, one transfer took 17 months from the first recommendation of transfer. Longer processing times delay the recommendations, which are essential in maintaining healthy species populations, many of which play a critical role in international conservation breeding programmes.

BIAZA, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, has been working with officials to resolve the issues so that its members can continue contributing fully to international breeding programmes. However, without an agreement between Britain and the EU that removes unnecessary red tape, the number of animal transfers will never reach the levels seen before the UK’s exit from the EU.

Dr Jo Judge, CEO of BIAZA, commented: “Government has not replaced the framework that lets zoo animals move easily between Britain and the EU. The red tape swamp has made it extremely difficult for zoos and aquariums to fully partake in the international conservation programmes that are so important to many species.”

We are facing a biodiversity crisis and need to be coming together more than ever to save species from extinction.

Dr Jo Judge, CEO of BIAZA

Species that are extinct in the wild are completely reliant on breeding programmes to survive. Animals born in zoos require close international cooperation to ensure a species can thrive as a vital back-up to declining wild populations. Breeding programmes underpin a very important part of the work Colchester Zoo does to conserve species.

The BIAZA campaign calls for the negotiation of an EU-UK Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement which would enable more zoo and aquarium species to be moved as part of vital conservation breeding programmes.

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