There Was Just a Big Win for Animal Rights at the Barcelona Zoo

Barcelona’s town council voted this month to modify the bylaws of the Barcelona Zoo to dramatically change the nature of its breeding programs.

Going forward, breeding will only be allowed in the zoo if the plan is to release the offspring into the wild. Any breeding for captivity will be prohibited.

“We want zoos to stop breeding animals that do not respond to an environmental strategy, breeding them just so they can be in front or inside a cage,” animal rights activist Leonardo Anselmi told the Associated Press.

This is a huge win for animal rights. And it was only one measure of a new strategic plan for the zoo.

A committee of ethical experts and scientists will also be convened to plot a conservation plan for all species held in the zoo. Based on the committee’s recommendations, some animals may be released into the wild or transferred to other zoos or sanctuaries better suited to work with them.

The new bylaws are considered “compassionate conservation” and boldly declare that “animals are beings deserving of our respect.”

The long-term vision is to transform the Barcelona Zoo into a center of education and research, as well as a place that takes in animals who cannot survive in the wild.

Sounds pretty smart!

But not everyone is enthusiastic about the changes. Zookeepers have spoken out against the new policies, arguing they’re restricting the zoo’s abilities to conduct conservation.

“The reproduction limitation in some cases for us is very serious because it prevents the reproduction of species that are in a great risk of extinction and we cannot allow them to disappear,” Damia Gibernet, head of the local zookeeper’s union, told the Associated Press.

The zookeepers protested the changes by briefly going on strike at the start of the month, saying they needed more flexibility to save endangered species.

“The problem is not the philosophy of deeper and more sincere (understanding of) animal welfare, which we all agree on, but rather how to apply it,” Gibernet said.

Both sides seem to agree the bigger issue is zoo attendees don’t always come for education or care about the lesser-known animals who are still critical to the ecosystem. They want to see exciting, exotic or dangerous animals. So the challenge going forward is to reform the zoo into a place that is still exciting — but with a deeper focus on educating people who come through its doors.

It looks like the Barcelona Zoo is giving that a shot. Let’s hope it works!

Photo Credit: Flickr / Mario Sánchez Prada

89 comments

Leanne K
Leanne K17 days ago

Zoo keepers want to keep their jobs and they want their jobs to still be admirable and prestigious. Time they started acting for the animals and not themselves

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Nicole Heindryckx

... So their concern is not to save the species or educate people, it is just about their bank account, as we know for so many years already. Conservation of endangered species must take place under the best circumstances. Agreements, on a worldwide basis, should be made to make this change possible to the benefit of the poor animals and not to protect the income of zookeepers. That's it !!!

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Nicole Heindryckx

I fully agree that breeding wildlife animals in zoos is not recommendable when this offspring is just meant to be sold to another zoo, or a place where it has to spend his life in an enclosure, or even worse, behind bars. Zoos, as there are still so many all over the world means jail to these animals. No social contact with other groups, no roaming around for hundreds of miles each day no normal sexual contact, etc.. etc.. Why do we want to turn these beauties into our slaves ?? Do we really need to show off our supremacy whenever it's possible? We decide when a female can get pregnant, and all the romance around it is just forgotten. All we need is a receptive female, deep-frozen sperm and that's it... Shame on us !! If we have to breed an additional number of animals, I am quite sure there are enough deep-frozen sperm and egg-cells to combine a thousand times. This should only be done when in certain regions a great number were either killed by poachers or disappeared due to extreme weather conditions, like drought, flooding, fire, etc.. But then the offspring would be born at the exact location where it is needed and without a lot of unnecessary costs and stress for the animals. Of course, zookeepers will never agree with this method. When there is a newborn animal in the zoo, the first 6 months crowds are coming to the zoo to admire the baby causing lots of stress to moms and babies. Is that a good start in life ?? So th

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Caitlin L
Caitlin L26 days ago

good to know

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Virgene L
Virgene L26 days ago

This is a step forward to breed to release to the wild. How can zookeepers have a complaint about that? But breeding for replacement animals is probably a good idea too. At least we would still have species that are declining in the wild without having to traumatize them with capturing. Thanks!

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Barbara S
Barbara S27 days ago

very good

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Shirley S
Shirley S27 days ago

noted

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Leopold Marek
Leopold Marek27 days ago

Tyfs

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Leopold Marek
Leopold Marek27 days ago

Tyfs

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Michael Friedmann

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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