After the countrywide shock surrounding the gruesome details of a police crackdown on an illegal tiger trade den and the escapes of four feline predators from zoo parks in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture announced a joint effort with the Ministry for the Environment, which aims to propose tougher legislation regarding the ownership and exhibiting of wild animals.
Walking a puma on a lead in public, or holding tiger cubs in so called cuddly corners are some of the controversial practices that the Minister of Agriculture, Miroslav Toman, announced he intends to ban.
The commitment, announced at a specially called press conference on Thursday, came after public wide outrage at the conditions in which some of the country’s controversial zoological parks hold their animals and the lax security measures that have led to four dangerous beasts escaping in the past two months.
Some veterinarians and members of the wider public have been calling for a complete ban on wild animals in private ownership. Toman did not dismiss such a move eventually taking place, but said this was not possible in the immediate future.
“We are of course aware of parts of the public calling for a complete ban. Unfortunately that is not possible at the moment, because the problem of how to deal with the remaining animals in the care of breeders would arise. Due to the long lifespans of these animals, an interim period will have to be arranged. We also have to find spaces in which we could build effective holding stations. One solution to this could be the identification of suitable brownfield land in the ownership of the State Land Office and some other organisations.”
Toman’s primary advisory organ in this matter, is the Commission for the Protection of Animals. Composed of representatives from ministries as well as academics and professionals in the field of animal care it is now working on the various recommendations. I asked its head, Pavel Bohatec, about the some of the concrete measures it is proposing.
„The real difference is that we are introducing tougher regulation on the spaces in which such animals can be kept and the equipment used by breeders. We are also calling for the improvement of measures related to animal registration and record keeping, which is currently the responsibility of the Ministry for the Environment which also is why we need to work together.“
The meetings between the two ministries are set to begin this week and Toman hopes the amendments to the current law will be passed in the autumn of this year.