EU Green Week pays attention to the need for an EU Positive List of species allowed as pets

The European Union is feeling green this week! Virtual events are being held all across the EU and in the European capital Brussels this week to talk about one thing: How the EU can better protect and restore nature and biodiversity.

We’re so happy to see that the EU recognizes that we can’t discus biodiversity protection without also looking at the millions of exotic animals that belong in the wild, but still end up in European homes as pets.

Today, EU officials and experts met online to discuss whether the EU is doing enough when it comes to regulating wildlife trade. Our answer? No, the EU isn’t doing enough. As our colleague Ilaria di Silvestre of Eurogroup for Animals highlighted in the event “Zoonotic diseases, invasive alien species and wildlife trade – is the current EU legislative framework fit for purpose?”, Europe is in dire need of a Positive List to regulate the booming trade and keeping of exotic pets in Europe. Existing EU regulations are not tailored to address the multifaceted risks posed by the exotic pet trade.

Screenshot digital meeting

Not only are exotic animals suffering across Europe because they are wholly unsuitable to be kept as pets, exotic animals also pose risks for biodiversity conservation and for public health. Exotic pets can become invasive and can offset delicate local ecosystems when they escape or are released into nature. The poorly regulated trade in wild animals has also been identified as one of the main factors that contribute to the emergence of zoonotic diseases (diseases transmitted from animals to humans), as we simply do not know what (undiscovered) pathogens these animals are carrying. The current COVID19 pandemic has shown us yet again how devastating the impact of such zoonotic disease transmission can be.

“Five decades of rescuing animals from all over Europe has taught us one thing: the exotic pet trade needs to be regulated urgently and strictly. For every animal we rescue at AAP there are hundreds on our waiting list, but we know there are thousands of animals out there in uncertain circumstances and with unknown health statuses” says David van Gennep, CEO of AAP.

Every year, AAP receives more than 1200 rescue requests from all across the EU. At AAP, we can give some of these animals a better future, but we can’t solve the problem. The European Union can. And the solution is clear: adopt an EU Positive List for pets. The Positive List has proven itself as a highly effective, transparent, clear and efficient method to prevent the multifaceted risks posed by the keeping and trade of exotic pets. If Europe is serious about protecting biodiversity, ending animal suffering and preventing future disease outbreaks and pandemics, it’s time to get to work on the EU Positive List!

Read more about the Positive List.