Do Formal Inspections Ensure that British Zoos Meet and Improve on Minimum Animal Welfare Standards?
This study explored whether inspections lead to animal welfare improvements in British zoos. The authors examined two consecutive inspection reports for 136 zoos in Britain to determine the level of compliance with minimum animal welfare standards. The results showed no evidence of an overall improvement in this area. The findings also pointed to a lack of consistency between inspectors and a high proportion of zoos failing to meet minimum animal welfare standards. Based on the study, the authors suggest that the current system of inspection and licensing is subpar and in need of improvement.
“We analysed two consecutive inspection reports for each of 136 British zoos made by government-appointed inspectors between 2005 and 2011 to assess how well British zoos were complying with minimum animal welfare standards; median interval between inspections was 1,107 days. There was no conclusive evidence for overall improvements in the levels of compliance by British zoos. Having the same zoo inspector at both inspections affected the outcome of an inspection; animal welfare criteria were more likely to be assessed as unchanged if the same inspector was present on both inspections. This, and erratic decisions as to whether a criterion applied to a particular zoo, suggest inconsistency in assessments between inspectors. Zoos that were members of a professional association (BIAZA) did not differ significantly from non-members in the overall number of criteria assessed as substandard at the second inspection but were more likely to meet the standards on both inspections and less likely to have criteria remaining substandard. Lack of consistency between inspectors, and the high proportion of zoos failing to meet minimum animal welfare standards nearly thirty years after the Zoo Licensing Act came into force, suggest that the current system of licensing and inspection is not meeting key objectives and requires revision.”
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