ABOUT THE ISSUE
The import of exotic species for the pet trade threatens the survival of wild species, the welfare of the animals and the health of humans and other animals from the spread of disease. Some wild animals are captured under dire conditions and suffer high mortality rates throughout the trade cycle. The complex needs of exotic animals can be difficult to meet in captivity. When animals become too costly, difficult to manage, or lose their novelty, they are often abandoned and can threaten native wildlife and the ecosystem.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION
The regulation of the private keeping of wild animals is left to EU Member States. While all of them have some type of animal protection law, the level of protection, the animals covered and the rules related to the private keeping of exotic animals vary greatly. Two-thirds of EU countries have signed the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, which includes a 1995 resolution discouraging the keeping of wild animals as pets.
Some Member States have created lists of animals which may be kept (positive list) or may not be kept (negative list) by private individuals. Currently, only Belgium has a true positive list for mammals, while 17 countries have negative lists covering a few species (great apes) of a wider range of dangerous animals.
WHAT ARE WE CALLING FOR
- Member States to create lists of species allowed to be kept by private owners based on clear criteria, including animal welfare.
- Member States to improve education on the requirements for keeping species to discourage purchases and ensure the welfare of animals in captivity.
- Breeders and pet shops to provide detailed information on the animals they sell.
- Strict recordkeeping and permitting by Competent Authorities to improve monitoring of the exotic animal species currently kept by private individuals.
- Council Regulation 338/97 of 9 December 1996
- Council Directive 92/65/EEC of 13 July 1992 laying down animal health requirements governing trade in and imports into the Community of animals
- Regulation 998/2003 on the animal health requirements applicable to the non-commercial movement of pet animals
- Regulation 318/2007 laying down animal health conditions for imports of certain birds into the Community and the quarantine conditions thereof
- Report: Amphibian and reptile pet markets in the EU: an investigation and assessment (May 2012)
- Summary report: Amphibian and reptile pet markets in the EU: an investigation and assessment (May 2012)
- Brief on keeping of exotic animals (updated in 2011)
- Summary brief of Health Risks from New Companion Animals report (October 2011)
- Report: Health Risks from New Companion Animals (October 2011)
- ECDC's letter agreeing with Eurogroup’s report on health risks from new companion animals