The Environment Ministry plans to update guidelines for how zoos and aquariums should care for animals for the first time in 27 years.
The guidelines will include recommended rest time to reduce the animals’ stress from being exposed to public view for long periods of time.
The guidelines will also cover animals kept at parks and temporary exhibitions.
Although details of the guidelines will be decided after further discussion, ideas being considered by a ministry panel include making sure the animals will be given rest time and avoiding illumination that could be too bright for the animals.
Because an increasing number of zoos and aquariums allow visitors, particularly children, to touch animals, the ministry panel will consider measures to prevent the spread of infection through such contact, officials said.
Animal rights groups have argued that it constitutes abuse to have dolphins and monkeys take part in performances that they would never do in their natural environment, and this may be among the topics up for debate.
Current guidelines, written in 1976, stipulate that animals should be properly fed and given drinking water, that measures be taken to prevent visitors from harming them, and that they not be made to perform acts requiring harsh training.
Critics have argued that the guidelines are outmoded and do not fit the current outlook on animals.
The 2000 revision of a law on animal protection, which clarified the responsibility of pet owners over their animals, also prompted the Environment Ministry to start reviewing the guidelines for zoos.
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