20th June 2024

With two weeks to go until the nation decides who will represent us in our next government, here at Freedom for Animals we have been considering what we hope to see our new representatives act upon. There is a huge wealth of opportunity to improve the lives of animals in the UK, and we have come up with six main aims for the parliament of 2024-2029. We hope to see our new MPs support the following goals:  

  1. End the breeding, trading, and import of animals for zoos and aquariums.

Zoos and aquariums across the UK keep thousands of wild animals captive under the guise of ‘conservation’, denying them their rights to perform their instinctive behaviours including hunting, foraging, forming territories, attracting and choosing mates, and migrating, whilst having no benefit to wild population levels. Zoos and aquariums began as entertainment venues, and though many have attempted to rebrand, that is what they remain - attractions with living sentient exhibits. This must be stopped by ending breeding, trading, and import of animals from other zoos. with the end of the supply of new animals, and existing zoos and aquariums should be encouraged to transition to true sanctuary models - in which no animal if forced into exhibition and breeding and trading of animals is actively prohibited.

  1. Support existing initiatives to end the keeping of elephants in UK zoos with an immediate ban on breeding and trading of elephants in UK zoos.

Research has demonstrated that elephants suffer in captivity. In captivity they lead shorter lives, on average, compared to wild elephants, have poorer reproductive success, higher still birth rate, higher infant mortality and often have significant physical and psychological welfare problems including foot, joint and muscle problems and stereotypic behavior.  In  addition to this, their presence in UK zoos has never made a positive impact on wild population levels. In light of this overwhelming evidence we believe there is no excuse not to immediately end the breeding and trading of elephants for exhibition in the UK.

  1. Prohibit the pinioning and / or tethering of all birds held in captivity in the UK.

We all know that birds need to fly free.  Flying is the most basic behaviour enjoyed by most bird species. However zoos and falconry centres frequently use cruel techniques to prevent this. Some tether birds by their legs to posts and rings, and some actually amputate part of birds’ wings to permanently disable their fight. We believe both of these practices should be banned.

  1. Introduce legislation which prohibits the exhibition of any animals, both wild and domestic, in travelling performances. 

Thanks to the Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019 the wild animals such as elephants, lions, and tigers are no longer used in UK circus performances. However, ‘domesticated’ animals are still subjected to difficult, dangerous, and demeaning tricks. We believe they deserve the same protections as wild animals and should be covered by similar legislation.

 

  1. Amend the Zoo Licensing Act to ensure that zoos are open and transparent regarding the provenance and fate of all animals including imports, births, deaths, trading and medical procedures for all animals.

Zoos are publicly licensed businesses whose practices are not open to public scrutiny, as there is currently no requirement for transparency in the animals they breed and trade, and crucially those they kill and subject to surgeries. The public deserves to know what is happening to the animals behind zoo gates, and that is why we are asking for regular, fully published reports on zoos’ activities, including the provenance and fate of all animals. 

  1. Prohibit the keeping, breeding and trading of wild, non-domesticated animals as exotic pets.

There is a growing problem in the UK of wild animals being kept as exotic pets, leading to inexperienced and unqualified individuals keeping animals for whom they cannot provide adequate care - at the expense of the animals’ welfare and often their lives. This is exacerbated by the fact that the Dangerous Wild Animals Act exempts pet shops from having to have Dangerous Wild Animals Licences. Ending the exotic animal trade will end this problem.


Thousands of animals are held captive in the UK right now, and the next government represents the opportunity to make vital changes to end their suffering. Do you know where your candidates stand on issues affecting animals used for entertainment? You can find out by writing to them, or asking visiting canvassers. Find out who is standing in your area here.

Regardless of who our next representatives are, Freedom for Animals will continue the fight to speak out for exploited animals and build a future without cages. Will you join us?