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Ixelles schoolchildren no longer allowed to visit zoos

07:55 04/01/2020

The city council of the Brussels commune of Ixelles has decided that schools under its authority will no longer be allowed to organise visits to the Antwerp Zoo, the Planckendael animal park or any other location where non-native animal species are kept in enclosures.

The Ixelles city council said that visits by its municipal schools to local zoos had been prohibited since the start of the 2019-2020 schoolyear, but the news of the decision only got out yesterday.

“As a government, we do not organise school visits to places where animals are kept trapped,” the city council told VRT NWS. “We are not opposed to the concept of animal zoos, but we believe there are other ways to observe non-native species.” 

Ixelles mayor Christos Doulkeridis, a lawmaker for the Ecolo-Groen party, added that animal zoos have no pedagogical value. “There are enough alternatives, a petting zoo for instance.”

Asked for a response, a spokesperson for the Antwerp Zoo pointed out that the animal park is visited by 140,000 children every year. Such school visits are preceded by multiple activities and lessons in the classroom via the zoo’s digital platform. These preparatory classroom activities are designed so that they meet the requirements for the skills and knowledge pupils must be able to master by the end of the schoolyear.

“The visit is usually the last step in that project,” spokesperson Ilse Segers said. “This is about so much more than just looking at animals. There’s a lot more to it,” she said, adding that Flanders’ has some of the most stringent animal welfare regulations in Europe.

The Antwerp Zoo, located just off the city’ Central Station, is one of the oldest and best-conserved zoos in the world. Its Centre for Research and Conservation, one of the world’s most advanced zoological research centres, focuses on animal welfare, breeding programmes and basic zoology research.

Photo: Belga / Zoo Antwerpen/ Jonas Verhulst

Written by Linda A Thompson (Flanders Today)


Frank Lee

Ah, so I did the right thing letting my dog go free before my last vacation? I'm sure it finds life in the wild much more interesting than being confined between four walls under a roof with a guaranteed meal each day.

Jan 4, 2020 16:11

More ignorant children who won't have any idea about animals that aren't native to Belgium!! I must admit that when my children were small and we took them for walks in the countryside we saw sheep and cows but not much else so what are they meant to learn from that? I suppose if all the animals were let out then the politicians would be happy but I'm not sure that the general public would be!

Jan 6, 2020 10:45

A very courageous and progressive initiative. Congratulations to the Commune of Ixelles! I hope all the others follow through.

This should be applied to all species not just "non-native".
Animals are not ours to exploit or keep prisoner. They are to be respected and if we want to observe them, we can go as prisoners to their environment.
There are umpteen others ways to learn about them -TV documentaries, books, films, which are documented by watching them in their natural habitat.

Children need to be sensitised to the feelings to animals first and foremost.

The "general public" is ignorant.

Jan 26, 2020 11:06

...feelings OF animals...

Jan 26, 2020 11:07