The permanent European prison

Jo-Anne McArthur









We’ve all heard about the horrors of zoos and what once was a practice that we seemed oblivious to and didn’t think to question, is now almost common knowledge as those thoughts of the welfare and care of those imprisoned animals creeps into our minds.

Highly upsetting photos have been released of various animals trapped behind bars in zoos around Europe, taken by international photographers, Britta Jaschinski and Jo-Anne McArthur, which are frankly quite haunting.

Edinburgh Zoo, UK
Britta Jaschinski

The well known international wildlife charity, the Born Free Foundation, launched the exhibition of photos to highlight the lives of these animals that have no way of living their rightful life in the wild, and to bring our attention to the fact that these poor animals will die in these conditions.

Born Free believe that these conditions of many zoos within the European Union are very poor and below standard, and need to be given more attention, as they urge the European Union to act now to improve the lives of millions of captive animals.

Jo-Anne McArthur

MEP and the Green Party’s animals spokesperson, Keith Taylor, said that the images show the “urgent need” to improve conditions and regulatory enforcement, both in the UK and in the rest of the EU.

The European Council requires zoos to satisfy animals’ biological requirements by providing species-specific enrichment and a high standard of husbandry.

Jo-Anne McArthur

Through this powerful exhibition of photos, Born Free aims to show that the legal requirements are not, in fact, the reality, and so these conditions need to be investigated and required standards need to be met, instead of leaving these already imprisoned animals in the sub-standard conditions that they are currently in.

Jo-Anne McArthur

This Born Free investigation took place at a time when the European Commission is investigating the effectiveness of the EU Zoos Directive – findings of which will be published later this year and in 2017.

Jo-Anne McArthur

Virginia McKenna OBE, Co-Founder and Trustee of Born Free, said: “I should be used to looking at captive wild animals, having done so for over 45 years, but these tragic pictures left me speechless. Please look into the eyes of the macaque, the bear – well, look at all the animals. They tell their own story more poignantly than any words and mine. And the message they give is simple. Help us. End this.”

Jo-Anne McArthur

And, indeed, to end this is what we will fight for.

Britta Jaschinski


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