Brexit threatening endangered species

By Amogh Sahasrabhojanee

Breeding programmes designed to save critically endangered species are being jeopardised by Brexit, with zoos warning they are being prevented from transferring animals such as rhinos and giraffes by red tape created by the UK’s departure from the EU. The animal health regulation was passed in 2016 before the EU referendum, but came into force in April 2021. There have been no reports that the UK dissented from the regulation. Zoos’ small populations mean it is essential that they swap animals for breeding programmes to keep the gene pool as broad as possible. Before 31 December 2020, an average year saw about 1,400 transfers between the UK and other EU countries. But in 2021 there were just 56, and so far this year there have been 84, according to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Biaza). Nicky Needham, Biaza’s senior manager for animal care and conservation, said there were more than 400 European Endangered Species Programmes (EEPs), and UK zoos and aquariums were involved in coordinating about 25%.