Wild and exotic animals
Over recent years there has been a growing trend away from keeping traditional pets towards exotic animals, placing the EU as a top importer of tropical fish, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Yet there is minimal EU legislation to protect their welfare, monitor non-CITES trade, and safeguard the health of humans and other animals from exotic animals. In addition, the regulation of the private keeping and sale of wild animals is left to EU Member States national legislation. While all of them have an animal protection law, the level of protection, the animals covered and the rules related to the private keeping and sale of exotic animals vary greatly from one country to another.
The keeping of exotic animals as pets raises a number of concerns. Our primary concern is animal welfare, as exotic species have complex needs but are often subject to poor handling and conditions, inappropriate diets, and lack of enrichment leading to poor welfare.
Animal welfare concerns are also linked to other major issues including biodiversity loss and ecological threats due to the introduction of invasive alien species. We have an ethical obligation to ensure exotic animals are not introduced to areas where they can establish and may be subjected to inhumane controls. Species conservation is another concern as many exotic pet species are wild-caught with harmful capture methods and high mortality rates causing needless animal suffering. Finally, exotic pets can be carriers of serious diseases transmissible to humans and other animals and can pose safety risks (e.g predatory, aggressive or poisonous animals).
Our goal with this campaign is to reduce the number of exotic animals being kept as pets and increase the welfare of those exotic animals being kept as pets. This is why Eurogroup is calling for restrictions on the import, trade, sale and keeping of exotic pets; the regulation of the sale of exotic pets and requirements for training and distribution of care information to purchasers; and for increased public awareness of related issues.
Within the coming months, the EU agenda will address issues related to exotic pet welfare through initiatives such as the EU Invasive Alien Species Strategy, the Animal Health Law, consideration of an Animal Welfare Framework Law and Trade Agreements. This represents a key opportunity to call for policy coherence on exotic pets related to import, trade, keeping and sale.
Furthermore, since the regulation of the private keeping and sale of wild animals is left to EU Member States, we urge Member States to revise their animal welfare legislation to restrict the keeping of exotic pets based on scientific criteria including animal welfare.
For more information on the issue, download the documents below.
And stay tuned for more information on how you can help!
(Credit for pictures used in this campaign: flickr.com - Baby Baboons/Environment Blog, Treed Raccoons/Molajen, Barbary Macaque/Graphic Reality, African Genet/Char1iej)