We have recently been made aware of the distressing conditions for a lion and other animals held in Moriyama shopping mall zoo in Moriyama City, Shiga Prefecture. A lion has been shown in a tiny glass enclosure with apparent blood stains on the walls where he has repeatedly hit his head against the side of the enclosure. This zoo is not a JAZA member, however after speaking with our colleagues there, they have investigated the concern.
In Japan, there are a number of legislative acts that zoos must abide by, but the one regarding animal welfare is the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals 1973. Article 7 (1) within this Act creates a duty of care from owners or keepers and amendments in 2012 means they must maintain the environment and health of the animals. Anti-cruelty and duty of care provisions can be found in Articles 2 and 7(1) apply to all animals in captivity bar fish. However, the operation of the Act is devolved to regional prefectures without specific detail on how this is to operate. Part of our work in Japan is to work with local authorities to identify animal welfare training opportunities that will develop their capacity to assess and monitor captive animal welfare concerns in their prefecture.
JAZA contacted the authorities of Shiga local government and have found that following an investigation, recommendations have been made by these authorities to provide the lion with space away from the public to reduce the stress for this lion and the owner has been requested to submit improvement plans so that the local authorities can monitor changes. Credit must be given for the authorities in charge of animal welfare in this prefecture for their quick response to the concern and also to JAZA who remain committed to watching the condition of the animals at the mall. A shopping mall is no place for a lion and we do not condone keeping animals in these conditions and are grateful to JAZA and local authorities for their support and investigation.
Image source: www.huffingtonpost.jp