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Evaluation of the Zoos Directive

Council Directive 1999/22/EC
Of 29 March 1999
Relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos



The Zoos Directive is fit for purpose. It plays a small but useful and necessary role within a wider legislative framework. Whilst it is not a major piece of EU legislation, the Directive remains relevant and has clear EU added value. It is coherent with other EU legislation for the conservation of biodiversity. In relation to the benefits it provides it does not cause disproportionate costs. Although good progress has been made towards meeting the Directive's main and specific goals, this is incomplete. Realization of the Directive's full potential will depend upon improved implementation, ensuring that zoos across the EU contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in a more effective and efficient manner.

The evaluation results were published in the form of a Commission Staff Working Document.

The Executive Summary of the evaluation is available in EN, FR and DE.

The evaluation was supported by an external study to help the Commission gather and assess relevant information and evidence.

In practice

Evaluations provide an evidence-based critical analysis of whether EU actions are proportionate to their objectives and delivering as expected. They cover environmental, economic and social aspects, and concern all EU policy areas.

The Roadmap

The evaluation roadmap PDF is the "project plan". It sets out the subject of the evaluation and its purpose and provides key information on the scope, timing, data, stakeholder consultation and analysis planned to be used.

The key questions to be addressed were set out in the roadmap:

  • Effectiveness (Have the objectives been met?)
  • Efficiency (Were the costs involved reasonable?)
  • Coherence (Does the policy complement other actions or are there contradictions?)
  • Relevance (Is EU action still necessary?)
  • EU added value (Can or could similar changes have been achieved at national/regional level, or did EU action provide clear added value?)

In this context the evaluation examined, among other things:

  • Transposition, implementation and integration successes and problems;
  • The situation of implementation in different Member States
  • The extent to which the objectives have been reached/not reached and the reasons for this
  • Costs and benefits of the Directive;
  • The administrative burden caused by the Directive;
  • The relevance of the Directive to address certain needs
  • The coherence of the Directive with other legislative and non-legislative instruments
  • The extent to which the issues addressed by the Directive require action at EU-level
  1. General Literature Review
  2. Targeted Consultation

    a) online survey

    b) interviews

  3. Public Consultation
  4. Workshop

1) Evidence-Gathering – General Literature Review

A range of information sources are used for the general literature review. Priority is given to the most recent publications and reports, older information is included as well when relevant for the study.

All documents relevant to the evaluation of the Zoos Directive are kept in a reference database which will be regularly updated as the evaluation proceeds.

2) a) Evidence Gathering – Targeted Consultation -Online Survey (August 2016 – November 2016)

The survey was targeted at representatives of all stakeholder groups in a representative set of 14 Member States and also included international and EU level organisations, associations and experts/academics. The following Member States were selected according to the number of zoos, the size of the country and presence of wild fauna, geography, balance between old and new Member States: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain.

Questionnaires and recipients lists
Questionnaire addressed to Member States' competent authorities
Recipients list competent authorities

Questionnaire addressed to zoos
Recipients list zoos

Questionnaire addressed to national and international NGOs, zoos federations, organisations and experts
Recipients list national NGOs, zoos federations, organisations and experts
Recipients list international and EU level NGOs, organisations and experts


2) b) Evidence Gathering – Targeted Consultation -Interviews (October 2016 – December 2016)

Interviews complemented the information collected through the online survey, and made sure that the points raised by stakeholders were fully understood. The interviews served to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the stakeholder perspectives, and to complete the overview developed with literature research and the preliminary survey results.
List of interviewed stakeholders
Interview questions
Interview questions addressed to Member States' competent authorities
Interview questions addressed to zoos
Interview questions addressed to zoos federations
Interview questions addressed to NGOs

Summary of results

3) Evidence Gathering – Public Consultation (15 September 2016 – 08 December 2016)

A 3-months public internet consultation in all 23 EU languages was carried out to gather opinions of the wider public on the Zoos Directive. The public consultation complements the information gathered through evidence gathering steps 1-2.

A total of 2297 responses were received.

Initial statistical results
Annex with full data set
List of all contributions where participants agreed their contribution could be directly published together with the personal/organisation information or could be published anonymously. In this case the data was anonymized.

The contributions of participants who did not agree to the publication of results are not published. They were, however, taken into account when analysing the results of the public consultation.

4) Workshop (16 May 2017)

The aim of the workshop was to present and discuss with Member States and other stakeholders the preliminary findings emerging from the assessment of evidence and information gathered.

The workshop was attended by 81 participants.

For further information please consult the workshop website.

Contributions outside targeted consultation activities/public consultation

Competent authorities of the 14 Member States not selected for the targeted consultation as well as all stakeholders who would like to provide additional contributions outside the consultation activities were invited to send these to the functional mailbox:

The contributions were duly taken into account.

Position papers:

Born Free Foundation
Dolphinaria-Free Europe
Eurogroup for Animals
European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA)


  • October 2015: Publication of the roadmap for the evaluation of the Zoos Directive 1999/22/EC.
  • April 2016: Launch of a contract to help the Commission gather and assess relevant information and evidence
  • August – November 2016: Evidence gathering and consultation of all Member States and key stakeholder groups
  • September – December 2016: 12-week public internet consultation
  • May 2017: Workshop
  • August 2017: Finalisation of the study contract supporting the evaluation
  • November 2018: Publication of the Commission Staff Working Document on the results of the evaluation

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