SILVER SPRING, Md. – On Tuesday, April 10, Michigan House Bill 5778 was introduced to make changes to Michigan’s Large Carnivore Act. Due to a drafting error in the original law, since its enactment in 2000, it has been a violation of the law to breed large carnivores in the state of Michigan. In response to H.B. 5778, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) issued the following statement:
AZA applauds the time and thought that has gone into drafting changes to Michigan’s Large Carnivore Act. It has taken far too long to get a simple error corrected, so that AZA-accredited zoos can do what they are recognized globally for doing: scientifically and ethically managing their animals while leading efforts to save animals from extinction.
We urge the Michigan legislature to enact the simplest fix that will correct the original drafting errors and allow AZA-accredited facilities to legally breed large carnivores in Michigan. AZA's accreditation standards are nationally and internationally recognized as the zoological profession’s “Gold Standard," and assure the health, safety and welfare of the animals and those that work for and visit our member facilities.
At this time, we cannot support the recently introduced version of the bill, for reasons summarized below. We look forward to working with our members and the State of Michigan to explore solutions we can all support.
1) H.B. 5778 creates an Advisory Panel designating an AZA representative and another regulated party as members. We believe it is inappropriate, as this creates a perception of conflict that could undermine the public’s high confidence in our member institutions. We are not aware of any precedent where regulated parties are placed into a direct and exclusive advisory capacity on specific permitting decisions.
2) As we interpret this legislation, by virtue of their AZA accreditation, and participation in AZA's Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program, all of our Michigan members already meet the statutory requirements for breeding. Therefore, this required review and permitting seems unnecessary. We are not aware of any other state that requires a specific permit as a predicate for an AZA-accredited member to breed animals, especially those covered by AZA Species Survival Plans.
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.
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