Avoinna tänään 10–16

Accredited and supervised work at the zoo


Accredited and supervised work at the zoo

There are many laws and regulations that govern the day-to-day running of a zoo. Our activities are subject to regular inspections by the authorities and other experts. We at Korkeasaari Zoo are responsible for ensuring that the animals are well cared for here, taking into account the needs of individuals and species.

Zookeeper and common gundi

Animal care professionals

At Korkeasaari Zoo, only people with a suitable education and sufficient work experience in animal care are recruited as zookeepers. We offer our employees continuous further training at Korkeasaari Zoo, in Finland, and abroad. The management of animal care and conservation is carried out by biologists who are also involved in practical animal care work. For example, the biologists are involved in the Zoo’s collection plan, enclosure design, and in the rehabilitation of patients at the Wildlife Hospital.

Korkeasaari Zoo and the Wildlife Hospital have two full-time in-house veterinarians with extensive experience in the field. Our veterinarians are specially trained in the care of zoo animals and wildlife, and give lectures on these subjects to other veterinarians and veterinary students. One of the our veterinarians also acts as a consultant veterinarian on European forest reindeer related issues for all European zoos keeping the species. Through cooperation between zoos, we also have access to an extensive international network of experts for each species.

Korkeasaari Zoo conducts and supports research to improve animal welfare and the success of conservation work. To monitor and improve animal welfare, Korkeasaari Zoo has appointed an Animal Training and Welfare Coordinator and created its own welfare assessment. The assessment is done for each individual animal and takes into account the animal’s health, interaction with other animals, environment and nutrition, among other things. Written care and feeding instructions have been made for each species living at Korkeasaari Zoo, and are followed in the day-to-day management of the animals. There are also written plans for the training of the animals.

Barbary macaque

Legislation and the supervising authority

In Finland, the Animal Welfare Act (law no. 693/2023) states that zoos must promote the conservation of wild fauna and biodiversity, participate in conservation research and training in conservation skills, exchange information about conservation, and breed animals in the zoo and reintroduce them to the wild. Korkeasaari Zoo’s activities fulfill all of the above. In addition to national legislation, European zoos are also governed by the EU’s Zoo Directive.

Each Finnish zoo is supervised by the local Regional Veterinary Office and the provincial veterinarian. As Korkeasaari Zoo is home to primates, we are inspected twice a year by the Provincial Veterinarian. The inspection includes a visual check of the animals, their conditions and the feed stores. In addition, the Provincial Veterinarian supervises the zoo’s research activities, and always checks new enclosures and their species-specific requirements before they are put into operation. These requirements are laid down in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s decree on animal housing. The Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes monitors the safety of visitors to zoos and the use of medicines used in veterinary medicine is monitored by the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea.

The Wildlife Hospital also operates in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. The law lays down a duty to help sick and injured wild animals. It states that the starting point for treatment must always be the return of a healthy animal to the wild after treatment. When the new Animal Welfare Act to replace the old law of 1996 was being prepared, Korkeasaari Zoo gave its opinion on the law with regard to both zoo animals and wild animals in need of assistance: for example, we wanted the definition of zoo in the law to be clarified and the care of wild animals to be regulated more precisely.

Animal care director viewing the mink enclosure

Accreditations by the Zoo Community

Korkeasaari Zoo is one of the founding members of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). Today, EAZA has around 300 members. Members are committed to following the organisation’s ethical principles, and take part in environmental education and conservation work. EAZA monitors the activities of its accredited members through regular screenings, and membership can be lost if the zoo’s activities do not meet the criteria. These inspections cover areas such as zoo staff, safety, finances, animal welfare, enclosures, and veterinary facilities and documentation. EAZA may also issue warnings and recommendations to its members on the basis of anomalies brought to its attention outside the inspections.

Korkeasaari is also a member of the Finnish Zoological Society. However, the society does not organise screenings for its members, as it is not an official organisation, but still requires its members to adhere to its ethical principles. To strengthen Nordic cooperation, Korkeasaari Zoo has also joined the Swedish Association of Zoos and Aquaria SAZA, which includes Korkeasaari Zoo and around 20 member zoos in Sweden and Norway. Like EAZA, SAZA monitors the activities of its members through regular screenings, which include a comprehensive review of the zoo’s operations.

Animal transport vehicle

Permits and regulations for animal transports

In Finland, the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre) grants permits for the transportation of protected species or scientific samples taken from them. The ELY Centre is also responsible for obtaining permits for animals that have exceptionally stayed at the zoo after recovering at the Wildlife Hospital. Certain animals classified as production species also require registration with the Finnish Food Authority.

When animals are moved from Finland to other countries, a TRACES certificate, i.e. an international health certificate, is required. The TRACES system is maintained by the European Commission and the certificate is issued by a City’s Veterinarian. Korkeasaari Zoo has been granted the status of an approved establishment by the EU, which means a high level of animal disease control. Movements of animals between approved zoos are possible without the need for otherwise mandatory quarantine.

For many animals, international trade is governed by the CITES Convention. It lists tens of thousands of animal and plant species that are threatened or endangered as a result of trade. The species listed in the Convention are classified in three different appendices and require different permits, certificates and import notifications. CITES applies to everyone: although zoos do not buy or sell animals between themselves, Korkeasaari Zoo must obtain permits under the Convention when transferring animals born here to other zoos. For example, simply sending animal reproductive cells or other samples requires the same permits and certificates. In addition to the CITES Convention, Finland also complies with European Union legislation, some of which is stricter than the CITES Convention.

Korkeasaari Zoo records all animal imports, exports and births in the Species360 ZIMS database, which also contains other individual-level information on animals, such as health records and pedigrees. ZIMS is used internationally as a database for both zoos and wildlife research institutions, and also contains the studbooks of numerous species in Europe and worldwide.

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