Of the 14 zoos currently in operation in Greece, just one -- the Attica Zoological Park in Spata, north of Athens -- is properly licensed and meets European regulations regarding the upkeep of animals in captivity, the Arcturos animal welfare society revealed on April 25.
In a 39-page report that was drafted with the cooperation of numerous experts, as well as Endcap, a pan-European coalition of groups acting against animal captivity, and the UK-based Born Free Foundation, Arcturos stressed the need for clearer legislation defining and governing the operation of facilities where wild animals are kept in captivity for the purpose of public display or breeding.
The report was part of a presentation made at the European Commission in Brussels on April 24 by Endcap and the Born Free Foundation -- with Arcturos reporting on conditions in Greece -- summing up the results of a comprehensive investigation into the licensing and performance of zoos across Europe.
For Greece in particular, Arcturos’s report laments the lack of public awareness regarding wild animals in captivity and inspections of sites where they are displayed or bred.
It also says that the interpretation by Greek legislation of the EU directive governing zoos, which was adopted by Athens in 2005, “lacks uniformity, which has led to inconsistencies in its application.”
“The Ministry of Environment, which has recently adopted responsibility for zoo regulation from the Ministry of Agriculture, does not appear to hold a central record that lists ‘zoos’ and ‘exhibitions of animals’ in Greece,” the conservationists’ report said.
Arcturos further charged local authorities responsible for zoos operating in Thessaloniki’s Seikh-Sou Forest, in Trikala and in the National Gardens in Athens.
“These establishments are not regulated by [EU directive] PD98/2004, but instead are provided with operational licenses at the local level. Local mayors defend the existence of their zoos but do not appear to recognize... their responsibilities to the animals in their care,” it said in its report.