People, Environment

DOE not to Issue Licenses for Zoos

Only five zoos out of 70 in operation have yet to receive permits.Only five zoos out of 70 in operation have yet to receive permits.

In line with its declared goal of improving the conditions of animal facilities, the Department of Environment has stopped issuing permits for new zoos, bird gardens and animal care centers.

Ali Teymouri, director of the Hunting and Fishing Office at DOE, said all provincial offices have been instructed to stop licensing new animal facilities, with one exception.

“The country has 70 zoos, bird gardens and animal care centers, of which 65 have managed to obtain a license after addressing their issues,” he said, adding that five remaining facilities will be issued permits once their compliance with the department’s regulations is confirmed.

A large number of small animal facilities in urban areas have popped up across Iran between 2010 and 2011, the majority of which failed to meet even the most basic standards.  To close them all at once was not possible due to local authorities’ resistance and widespread public interest in these makeshift zoos. Therefore, DOE took a step-by-step approach to address the problem.

 The Long Game

In the first step, a technical supervisory committee was set up with a permanent secretariat and regular meetings were held in 2010, which formulated the guidelines for the launch and management of wildlife caring places and communicated it to provincial DOE offices.

The monitoring of centers began and strict restrictions were imposed on unlicensed facilities trading in and accepting donations of wild animals to encourage the facilities to apply for permits or risk being closed down.

Frequent meetings were also held with other organizations such as municipalities and Iran’s Veterinary Organization to help bring animal facilities up to standards.

However, since many zoos and bird gardens are run by private owners, they are affected by the country’s economic conditions and therefore may not be able to meet the requirements of DOE as quickly as desired, despite their willingness. Besides, the ban on the use of animals in circuses created new problems for these sanctuaries, as they were forced to create new spaces for the circus animals.

Animal care centers are, however, managed by municipalities that are expected to do more in terms of compliance with DOE standards.

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