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Back to Regulations Concerning the Private Possession of Big Cats

I.  Introduction

Although Turkey has a number of zoos that contain wild animals, big cats do not form a major part of the wildlife in Turkey itself.  Anatolian lions became extinct in the 19th century and tigers in the 1970s, and except for a few random sightings in recent years, it is believed that Anatolian leopards, too, have been completely wiped out.[1]

The major piece of legislation governing the protection of animals in Turkey is Law No. 5199, the Animal Protection Law.[2]  Although amendments to this law have been proposed, it was reported in October 2012 that some of the proposed amendments had been withdrawn because of pressure from animal rights groups.[3]

Under the Animal Protection Law, wild animals are defined as “vertebrate and invertebrate animals living freely in nature which have not been domesticated or cultivated.” [4]  Domesticated animals are “animals which have been cultivated and trained by humans,”[5] while domestic animals and pets refer to “all type of animals retained or intended to be retained by people in their houses, workplaces or on their land for private pleasure or security purposes whose care and responsibility is undertaken by their owners.”[6]  In addition, “controlled animals” are duly registered house animals and pets which have been adopted by a person, institution, organisation or legal entity and whose care, vaccinations and periodic health check-ups are carried out.”[7]

Since 1995, Turkey has been a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).[8]  In addition, the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, CETS No. 104, has been in force in Turkey since 1999.[9]  The Animal Protection Law sets forth certain principles that reflect the spirit of the Conventions, for example, “endangered species and their natural habitats will be protected,[10] “wild animals will not be removed from their natural habitats, and animals which are living freely in nature will not be captured and deprived of their freedom”;[11] “[i]n the protection of animals and the facilitation of their welfare, the hygiene, health and safety of humans and other animals must be taken into account”;[12] and “animals will be cared for, fed, sheltered and transported under the conditions suited to their species.”[13]  Turkey is also a party to the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals.[14]

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II.  General Care of Animals

A.  Keeping of Animals

The Animal Protection Law stipulates that, regarding the care of animals, persons who take part in a general training program on the care of animals and who take ownership of or look after an animal are liable for sheltering the animal and for meeting the animal’s needs, and for “taking care of their health and taking all necessary precautions with regard to the health and safety of people, animals and the environment.”[15]  Sellers of domestic animals and pets must participate in a certified training program on the care and protection of these animals, arranged by the local authorities.[16]

The conditions for owning and keeping domestic pets or controlled animals, as well as such matters as training in animal welfare and preventative measures to be taken against damage and disturbance caused by the animals, are prescribed in a regulation issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, upon consultation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and related organizations.[17]  Sequestration, because of the owner’s debts, of domestic pets that are being cared for in a house or garden is prohibited unless done for a commercial purpose.[18] 

B.  Trade in Animals

The Animal Protection Law imposes an obligation on those who produce and trade in domestic pets to take precautions in relation to the necessary anatomical, physiological, and behavioral characteristics of the animal to avoid endangering the health of the pet owner and of the mother selected for reproduction or her young.[19]  It prohibits abandonment of domestic pets and controlled animals that will not be able to reestablish harmony with their natural environment, although it stipulates that such creatures may be reclaimed or handed over to an animal shelter.[20]

The Animal Protection Law had formerly contained a provision, under the heading “bans and permissions” (Yasak ve izinler), giving the authority to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, based on consultation with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, to handle all types of permissions and transactions related to the trade of domestic pets under the Law’s provisions, including “their import and export and their removal from or bringing into the country in any manner whatsoever.”[21]  That provision was abolished in a 2010 revision of the Law.[22]

According to the Law on Veterinary Services, Plant Health, Food and Feed, provisions on the consignment, trade, and transport of live animals and animal products and reproductive products are to be laid down by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.[23]  The purchase and sale of animals is to be carried out in licensed animal markets and bourses and in animal fairs permitted by the Ministry, with the exception of direct sales made by animal holders.  The purchase and sale of pet animals is to be conducted in places licensed for the sale of such animals.[24]  It may be noted that the commentary on article 21 of the draft law on amendments to the Animal Protection Law stated that illegal animal imports, in particular, into Turkey, except for imports handled by pet shops, are unregulated, and indicated that as long as such imports are fueled by demand it will be difficult to curtail them.  (The concern voiced is more in connection with ordinary domestic pets; no reference was made to wild animals.)[25]

As a CITES member, Turkey has issued regulations on the Convention’s implementation within its borders.  The Food and Agriculture Organization law database (FAOLEX) has provided an abstract on the contents of Turkey’s 2001 implementation regulation[26] and on an amending regulation issued in 2004.[27]  According to the former:

List I of the regulation covers all endangered species of which trading is restricted.  Trading of these is allowed only under exceptional circumstances.  List II covers species that could be endangered unless appropriate restrictive measures are not taken.  List III covers all the species regulated by one country, where collaboration with other countries is needed for trade restrictions.  The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and [the Ministry of Forestry and the Environment] … are authorized to issue CITES certificates for the species listed in the regulation.  CITES certificate is required to export and import species in List I, List II and List III. Certificates for List I-A, List II-A, and List III-A is prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, List I-B, List II-B, and List III-B by the Ministry of Forestry, and for List I-C, List II-C, and List III-C by the Ministry of Environment. Procedure details are given in the regulation.[28]

The FAOLEX abstract of the 2004 Regulation Amending the Regulation on the Implementation of CITES states:

This regulation amends some provisions of the previous regulation on trading of endangered species: CITES certificate for species in List I-C, List II-C, and List III-C is not required.  As the ministries of Environment and Forestry are merged, CITES certificate for List I-B, List II-B, and List III-B are prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.  The information that has to be covered by the CITES certificate is given in details.[29]

According to a news report published in October 2012, as of that date, the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks had that year imposed fines of 611,000 Turkish lira (about US$327,500) on people who had engaged in illegal hunting and illegal trade in wild animals.  In addition to the imposition of administrative sanctions, the animals were confiscated.[30]

C.  Consequences of Violating Animal Welfare Provisions

The Animal Protection Law provides that persons who act in breach of its provisions on animal welfare and “who … seriously neglect the animals in their care or cause them pain, suffering or damage will be banned from keeping animals by the supervisory authorities and the animals will be seized.  Such animals will be given to new owners or taken into care.”[31]

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III.  Zoos

A.  Types of Zoos

Under the Animal Protection Law, the zoo management and the respective municipality must arrange the zoo in a manner suited to animals’ natural habitats, or ensure that they are so arranged, in accordance with regulations on the principles and procedures relating to the establishment and operation of zoos.[32]  The key regulation in this connection is the Regulation on the Procedures and Principles for the Establishment and Operation of Zoos, which classifies zoos, based on the number of animal species they contain, into Group A, zoos that have more than seventy animal species and where the responsible administrator is obliged to employ at least one veterinarian, and Group B, zoos that have a maximum of sixty-nine animal species and where the responsible administrator can arrange the form of veterinary services.[33]  An additional class of zoos is the children’s zoo.[34]

B. Documentation for Establishing a Zoo

A natural or legal person, institution, or organization that seeks to establish a zoo must provide certain documents, along with an application, to the provincial directorate of the place where they want to set up the zoo.  These include the list of animal species form, a building site plan permit, and a water use certificate.[35]  The documentation will be examined by the provincial directorate of environment and forestry and, if approved, be checked by a provincial commission, one of whose members is a veterinarian.  If the conditions of locating the zoo in a place where humans and animals will not be exposed to noise, air, and water pollution that might adversely affect their health are met,[36] the provincial directorate will approve the application, and two copies of the Commission report and the facilities permit will be issued.  One copy will be filed with the provincial directorate; the other will be given to the applicant.[37]

C.  The Zoo License

Within six months of obtaining authorization to establish a zoo based on the approved documentation, the natural or legal person, institution, or organization concerned must apply to the provincial directorate of labor for a work permit.[38]  Various documents are required in order to obtain a zoo license.  These include: 1) a document from the fire department that the necessary precautions have been taken to prevent fires and explosions; 2) a document to the effect that the domestic or foreign animal species have been obtained by legal means (proforma invoices, invoices, documents of sale, a contract that includes additional lists of CITES documents, nature collection and capture permits and similar documents); and 3) a document from the provincial administration of domestic, solid, and medical waste that disposal of such material will be carried out in a controlled manner.[39] 

If there is no deficiency in the documentation examined by the provincial directorate, a Report on Opening (Açılma Raporu) (a recommendation for opening of the facility signed by the Provincial Director of Environment and Forestry) and a Zoo License (signed by the governor of the provincial directorate of environment and forest)[40] will be issued.  If there are deficiencies in the documents, the applicants will be notified of them.[41]

A review must be conducted of the legality of the means of obtaining the game and wild animals in the zoo and of the Central Hunting Commission’s decisions on legally prohibited hunting methods, among other matters, within ten days before the approval of the zoo license by the provincial directorate.  Once the review has been completed, two copies of the Certificate of Possession of Game and Wild Animals will be made for each type of game and wild animal held,[42] one for the provincial directorate and one for the party concerned.[43]  The provincial directorate creates a file of all the permits and documents for each zoo and sends a copy of the Zoo License and Species List Form[44] to the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks.[45]

Managers of Group A and Group B zoos must also send certain documents to the provincial directorate within three months after the zoo’s registration date, including, among other information, the letters of engagement for the zoo’s manager and veterinarian, and a document signed by an administrator attesting to his or her responsibility for all personnel working in the zoo.[46] 

The zoo license is valid for five years, at the end of which a petition for an extension may be submitted to the provincial directorate, along with the Species List Form.  If the extension is approved, the license will be valid for another five years.[47]  Without a license, a zoo cannot be opened to the public.[48]

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IV.  Breeding

The breeding of animals in Turkey is governed by the Law on Animal Breeding.[49]  The Law stipulates that the breeding of animals of any kind must be conducted according to certain principles and procedures by units authorized to do so.[50]  Those qualified to breed animals will obtain a breeding license or certificate.[51]  Registration certificates, pedigree breeding, and the raising of animals for the breeding process cannot be used for other purposes.  A fee must be paid for purchase of the animals to a provincial commission established by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.[52]

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Wendy Zeldin
Senior Legal research Analyst
June 2013

 

[1] Adem Gilgin et al., Turkey’s Biodiversity 27 (UNFF 10, Apr. 8–19 2013, Istanbul, Turkey), General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks, http://www.milliparklar.gov.tr/kitap/5/?sflang=tr; Nicholas Burch, Anatolian Leopard Is Alive, The Washington Times (Aug. 25, 2006), http://bigcatrescue.org/anatolian-leopards/

[2] Hayvanlari Koruma Kanunu [Animal Protection Law], Law No. 5199 (June 24, 2004, last amended Dec. 13, 2010), Mevzuat.gov.tr, htutp://www.mevzat.gov.tr/Metin.Aspx?MevzuatKod=1.5.5199&sourceXml Search=& MevzuatIliski=0; Animal Protection Bill Law no 5199, HAYTAP (Animal Rights Federation of Turkey) (May 28, 2007), http://www.haytap.org/index.php/20070528133/mevzuat/animal-protection-bill-law-no-5199.

[3] Direndik ve kazandık. Hayvan hakları yasa tasarısı geri çekildi [Resisted and Won. Animal Rights Bill Was Withdrawn], Yeşil Gazete (Oct. 2, 2012), http://www.yesilgazete.org/blog/2012/10/02/direndik-ve-kazandik-hayvan-haklari-yasa-tasarisi-geri-cekildi/; 24/06/2004 tarihli ve 5199 sayılı Havanları Koruma Kanununun Bazı Maddelerinin Değiştirilmesi Hakkinda Kanun Teklifi gerekçesi ile birlikte ekte sunulmuştur … [Dated 06.24.2004 and No. 5199 the Law Amending Certain Provisions of the Law on the Protection of Animals, with the Reason Given in the Appendix …] (hereinafter Draft Amendments to Animal Protection Law), Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Feb. 28, 2012), http://www2.tbmm.gov.tr/d24/2/2-0366.pdf.

[4] Animal Protection Law art. 3(h).

[5] Id. art. 3(e).

[6] Id. art. 3(i).

[7] Id. art. 3(j).

[8] List of Contracting Parties, CITES, http://www.cites.org/eng/disc/parties/alphabet.php (last visited May 29, 2013); Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (Mar. 3, 1973), 27 U.S.T. 1087, T.I.A.S. 8249, 993 U.N.T.S. 243, http://www.cites.org/eng/disc/text.php, as amended, June 1, 1979, T.I.A.S. 11079, and Apr. 30, 1983, http://www.cites. org/eng/disc/gaborone.php (Gaborone Amendment).  The Convention was published in 22672 Resmî Gazete [Official Gazette] (June 20, 1996). 

[9] Status as of: 29/5/2013, Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, CETS No.: 104 (Sept. 19, 1979, entered into force June 1, 1982), Council of Europe, http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/ Commun/ChercheSig.asp?NT=104&CM=8&DF=&CL=ENG; Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Council of Europe, http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/104.htm (last visited May 29, 2013).

[10] Animal Protection Law art. 4(e).

[11] Id. art. 4(f).

[12] Id. art. 4(g).

[13] Id. art. 4(h).

[14] For the list of Member States, see European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, Nov. 13, 1987, in force on May 1, 1992, CETS No.: 125, http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ChercheSig.asp?NT=125&CM=&DF= &CL=ENG.  Turkey ratified the Convention on November 28, 2003; it entered into force in the country on June 1, 2004.  Id. The Convention defines “pet animal” as “any animal kept or intended to be kept by man in particular in his household for private enjoyment and companionship” and “animal sanctuary” as “a non-profit making establishment where pet animals may be kept in substantial numbers.  If national legislative and/or administrative measures permit, such an establishment may accept stray animals.”  European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals art. 1.

 

[15] Id. art. 5, ¶ 1.

[16] Id. ¶ 3.

[17] Id. ¶ 4.  See Hayvanların Korunmasina dair Uygulama Yönetmeliği [Implementation Regulation for Animal Protection], 26166 Resmî Gazete (May 12, 2006), http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/Metin.Aspx?MevzuatKod=7.5.10300 &MevzuatIliski=0&sourceXmlSearch=; Ev ve Süs Hayvanlarının Üretim, Satış, Barınma ve Eğitim Yerleri Hakkinda Yönetmelik [Regulation on  Places of Production, Sale, Shelter, and Training of Pet and Ornamental Animals ], 28078 Resmî Gazete (Oct. 8, 2011), http://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2011/10/20111008-4.htm.

[18] Id. ¶ 5.

[19] Id. ¶ 6.

[20] Id. ¶ 7.

[21] Id. art. 23.

[22] The 2010 revision is cited as being the Veteriner Hizmetleri, Bitki Sağliği, Gida ve Yem Kanunu, Law No. 5996 (June 11, 2010), 27610 Resmî Gazete (June 13, 2010), http://www.iegm.gov.tr/Default.aspx?sayfa= iegm_mevzuat &thelawtype=1&thelawId=27; Law on Veterinary Services, Plant Health, Food and Feed (hereinafter Law on Veterinary Services) (adopted June 13, 2010), available at http://faolex.fao.org/docs/pdf/tur106155E.pdf.

[23] Law on Veterinary Services art. 8(1).

[24] Id. art. 8(2).

[25] Draft Amendments to Animal Protection Law art. 21.

[26] Nesli Tehlike Altinda Olan Yabani Hayvan ve Bitki Türlerinin Uluslararasi Ticaretine İlişkin Sözleşmenin Uygulanmasina dair Yönetmelik [Regulation on Implementation of CITES], 24623 Resmî Gazete (Dec. 27, 2001), available at http://www.orgtr.org/tr/nesli-tehlike-altinda-olan-yabani-hayvan-ve-bitki-turlerinin-uluslararasi-ticaretine-iliskin-sozlesmenin-uygulanmasina-dair-yonetmelik (text as amended by Aug. 6, 2004, Regulation).

[27] Nesli Tehlike Altında Olan Yabani Hayvan ve Bitki Türlerinin Uluslararası Ticaretine İlişkin Sözleşmenin Uygulanmasına Dair Yönetmelikte Değişiklik Yapılmasına Dair Yönetmelik [Regulation on Amending the Regulation on Implementation of CITES] 25545 Resmî Gazete (Aug. 6, 2004), LEX-FAOC046270 available at http://faolex.fao.org/ (with text of document at http://faolex.fao.org/docs/texts/tur46270.doc).  See also Nesli Tehlike Altinda Olan Yabani Hayvan ve Bitki Türlerinin Diş Ticaretine İlişkin Tebliğ [Foreign Trade Notification on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora], 27126 Resmî Gazete (Jan. 30, 2009), http://www.resmigazete.gov.tr /eskiler/2009/01/20090130-3.htm; and Nesli Tehlike Altinda Olan Yabani Hayvan ve Bitki Türlerinin Diş Ticaretine İlişkin Tebliğ (Diş Ticaret: 2011/1) [Foreign Trade Notification on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Foreign Trade: 2011/1)], 27859 Resmî Gazete (Feb. 27, 2011), available at http://www.orgtr.org/ tr/nesli-tehlike-altinda-olan-yabani-hayvan-ve-bitki-turlerinin-dis-ticaretine-iliskin-teblig-dis-ticaret-20111.

[28] Turkey: Regulation on the Implementation of the Agreement Regarding Trading of Endangered Species [abstract of the 2001 Regulation], LEX-FAOC046273, available at http://faolex.fao.org/ (click on the hyperlink to the Regulation) (last visited May 31, 2013).

[29] Turkey: Regulation Amending the Regulation on the Implementation of the Agreement Regarding Trading of Endangered Species [abstract of the 2004 Regulation], LEX-FAOC046270, FAOLEX, http://faolex.fao.org/ (click on the hyperlink to the Regulation) (last visited May 31, 2013).

[30] Hayvan Ticareti Yapanlar ve Kaçak Avlananlara 611 Bin Lira Ceza Kesildi [Illegal Animal Trade Helpers and Poachers Fined 611,000 Lira], Haberler.com (Oct. 26, 2012), http://www.haberler.com/hayvan-ticareti-yapanlar-ve-kacak-avlananlara-611-4043136-haberi/.

[31] Animal Protection Law art. 24.

[32] Id. art. 22.

[33] Hayvanat Bahçelerinin Kuruluşu İle Çalişma Usul ve Esaslari Hakkinda Yönetmelik [Regulation on the Procedures and Principles for the Establishment and Operation of Zoos] art. 5(1) (Aug. 11, 2007), http://www .mevzuat.gov.tr/Metin.Aspx?MevzuatKod=7.5.11503&sourceXmlSearch=&MevzuatIliski=0

[34] Id. art. 5(2). 

[35] Id. art. 7(1).

[36] Id. art. 6.

[37] Id. art. 7(2).

[38] Id. art. 8(1).

[39] Id. art. 8(2)(a)–(c).

[40] Id. Annex 4.

[41] Id. art. 8(3).

[42] Id. Annex 6.

[43] Id. art. 8(4).

[44] Id. Annex 5.

[45] Id. art. 8(5).

[46] Id. art. 8(6).

[47] Id. art. 8(7).

[48] Id. art. 8(9).

[49] Hayvan Islahi Kanunu [Animal Breeding Law] (Feb. 28, 2001), Law No. 4631, 24338 Resmî Gazete (Mar. 10, 2001), available at http://www.alomaliye.com/4631_sayili_kanun.htm.

[50] Id. art. 4.

[51] Id. art. 5.

[52] Id. art. 6.

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Last Updated: 02/28/2014