ZOOS AND aquariums across the island of Ireland have written to political leaders in Dublin and London to call for an agreement on the transfer of animals post-Brexit.
The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), whose members include Belfast Zoo, Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park in Cork, wrote to both Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to state that breeding programmes may be at risk because of restrictions on animal movements.
Last year just 48 animal transfers between EU and UK zoos took place, compared to 1,400 in 2019.
The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) noted in the letter:
"There are species that now only exist in the dedicated care of zoos and aquariums and for whom cross-border movements are critical to their ongoing survival.
It said there were "excessive and in some cases prohibitive restrictions".
"Not only are transfers between zoos in GB and Ireland (and Northern Ireland) being prevented, but animals can now no longer be transited through [the UK] on onward journeys into the EU which previously allowed for the fastest (and hence best possible welfare) journeys."
The signatories, members of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), have also written to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
"This is completely undermining the conservation impact of BIAZA member zoos, in all these nations," it added.
Zoos are advocating for a high level Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement for the movement of the animals between Britain and EU Member States, including Ireland and Northern Ireland.
BIAZA Senior Manager Nicky Needham explained:
"Import/export systems between Ireland, Britain and the European Union are now so poorly aligned that there are vast amounts of red tape just to get a single animal across."
"It is hugely frustrating that the transfer of animals, from langur monkeys to cheetahs has been made so much more difficult following Brexit."
Speaking on Morning Ireland, she also said that while animals are not in danger, what is in danger is the ability to maintain the best possible genetic diversity within the conservation breeding programmes.
"Our zoos now face impossible hurdles and delays to partaking in international breeding programmes."
Some of the breeding programmes managed from Ireland include critically endangered citron crested cockatoo and the Geoldi's monkey and these are coordinated from Dublin Zoo.