My Department is responsible for the implementation of the European Communities (Licensing and Inspection of Zoos) Regulations 2003 which transpose Directive 1999/22/EC of 29 March 2019 of the Council of the European Union relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos. These Regulations provide for a zoo inspection regime on foot of which licences may be issued to particular zoos and are supplemented by the Irish Standards of Modern Zoo Practice, produced by my Department in 2015. All zoos are inspected annually by my Department's zoo inspectorate.
In accordance with Regulation 4(2)(g), zoos are required to keep up to date records of their collections and under 14(1)(f) of the Regulations, zoo inspectors may require a person to produce any records that are required to be kept under the Regulations.
In practical terms, zoos keep these animal census records in the form of a Zoo Inventory Management (ZIM) system which is examined by the zoo inspectors during the inspection. Any issues relating to the inventory or mortality patterns must be noted by the inspector in their report.
If there are issues that require further examination, the inspector may request that a copy of the ZIM report be provided and retained by the inspectorate. However, in the event that the ZIM report does not highlight any cause for concern, the inspector may choose not to retain a copy. A copy may be requested by the zoo inspectorate at any time if required.
In recent years, some zoos have chosen to make the inventory available directly to the public via their annual reports or websites and members of the public can seek to obtain details from the zoos directly. In cases where members of the public have concerns around the operation of a particular zoo, they may contact the Zoo Licensing Unit of the NPWS at email@example.com to discuss the matter in more detail.
The zoo inspection process is regularly reviewed by officials in my Department and the issue of retaining copies of the animal inventory as a matter of course will be given consideration by the zoo inspectorate in the lead up to the next round of inspections in 2020.
Finally, my Department takes the concerns of the public in relation to animal welfare issues, as well as public safety issues, at zoos very seriously and examines carefully any complaints that are received. The establishment to which the Deputy refers was inspected recently and animal census information was provided to the inspectorate on the day of the inspection. The zoo inspectors noted that the inventory and mortality patterns were well within the normal range for the species in the zoo population.