Registered Charity No. 1157841

British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council

Permanent Captivity


Permanent Captivity

1) The ethics of keeping a permanently disabled casualty should be assessed by each rehabilitator for each case. Opinions may vary

but the animal's welfare should be the overriding consideration. Provision should be made for the mental and physical well-being of

any casualty kept permanently. Family groups may well be important for many species and territorial considerations should be taken

into account, especially in the breeding season.


2) Breeding must be avoided unless participating in a registered bona-fide breeding scheme.


3) Permanent casualties should be assessed daily by a competent person and records kept on their diet, health and veterinary treatment.


4) Accommodation for permanently disabled casualties should be a separate entity. Adequate space should be provided and the habitat enhanced to mimic the natural environment of the species, whilst allowing close monitoring and good standards

of husbandry and veterinary care.


5) All equipment should be exclusive to the unit and the highest standards of hygiene practised for the control of cross infection.


The BWRC does not condone the permanent captivity of any wild animal.


Legal Aspects

1. Whilst there is no specific legislation relating to permanently disabled casualties, it should be remembered that the various defences in wildlife legislation for anyone in possession of a protected wild animal relate only to the purpose of tending it and returning it to its wild state. The inference, therefore, is that it is not acceptable to keep such animals in captivity.


Ambiguity arises over the cases where eventual release would not be possible either at the time of capture or during treatment (e.g. a one-winged bird or blind mammal). It will become apparent that these casualties are not covered by the exclusions of the Act. It has not yet become a legal argument that these animals should be euthanased but it should be remembered that the animals in question will be protected by the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.


2. The manner of captivity (restraint, feeding, mobility) must not cause any further unnecessary suffering. No casualty should be kept if it can be shown to be in persisting pain.


The Animal Welfare Act 2006 not only prohibits any kind of cruelty (mental or physical) to captive animals, including birds, either directly or through poor housing and husbandry, but it also imposes a duty of care on any keeper that the animal’s needs, as defined by Section 9 of the Act, are met.


(Other relevant legislation is listed in Appendix I.)