Finally, a major EU member state is taking action: Italy is tackling the unbridled growth of the exotic pet industry with three new laws. Instead of an endless list of species that cannot be imported from the wild, Italy introduces a positive list. This list contains a handful of animal species that experts believe can be taken from the wild to be traded without risk. A second law stipulates that in five months from now, a substantial expansion of the existing negative list will follow, prohibiting private ownership of many currently legal reptiles, primates, lions and tigers. Finally, a third law will extend these new rules to circuses and other traveling animal shows. Good news!
Previously, most animal species were allowed to be imported into Italy from the wild without any problems. Thanks to the positive list, the approximately 250,000 allowed species are now reduced to … 6! The Italian Ministry of Health has followed the scientific advice of Ispra (Higher Institute for Environmental Protection) and decided through Decree October 11, 2022, that only five species of fish and one species of nudibranch are still allowed. All other species, according to Ispra, carry public health risks (zoonoses), threaten biodiversity or have behavioral, physical, biological and ethological reasons not to keep them in captivity.
Our Italian partner LAV calculated that this new law saves 1.2 million animals annually. “That is the number of lives taken by force every year from the forests of tropical countries as well as natural African wildlife, such as the fruit bat, and brought against their will and nature to Italy, in cages, trays and display cases to be transformed into unnatural so-called ‘companion animals’“, said Gianluca Felicetti of LAV.
In March 2023, the existing negative list will be expanded with hundreds of species, ranging from many primates, to big cats such as tigers and lions, to other large mammals such as elephants, to species of insects, reptiles and amphibians poisonous, stinging, toxic. “All species that constitute a danger to public health, safety and/or biodiversity, as well as hybrids between specimens of the aforementioned species and other wild species or domestic forms and their subsequent generations.” It is estimated that annually, 2 million exotic animals will no longer end up in terrariums, aquariums or cages in Italian households because of this law.
Third, the Chamber of Deputies previously agreed to enforce the expanded negative list also for circuses and traveling animal shows. So that means an end to wild animals in circuses, including hybrid species such as ligers (tiger and lion) and Savannah cats (serval with domestic cat).
“Certainly, the meaning of this new legislation, which will encourage the enactment of a European Regulation, is also cultural and educational to discourage the imprisonment of wildlife that are not domestic and therefore, as a matter of fact, are not to be kept home” Gianluca Felicetti concludes. AAP congratulates LAV with this achievement and considers this a next step towards a Europe where wild animals no longer suffer in living rooms, circuses or anywhere else.