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This is a discussion document only. Issued by The Tortoise Trust for public comment.

Membership and governance

1. Persons who within the previous 5 years have conducted any form of commercial trading in wildcaught reptiles shall not be eligible to hold board, trustee, advisory or any other management post.

2. Persons with criminal convictions for wildlife crimes, or for animal abuse, shall be permanently excluded from holding any such posts.

Placement of animals

1. Organizations shall establish adequate vetting procedures to ensure that animals are only placed in satisfactory environments, and that persons charged with caring for such animals demonstrate an adequate level of knowledge and commitment to care for all animals placed under rehoming or adoption programs.

2. Animals shall under no circumstances be placed with persons who within the previous 5 years have traded commercially in wildcaught reptiles, or who have a criminal conviction for wildlife crimes (for example, smuggling, CITES or local or state wildlife protection statute violations). Animals shall under no circumstances be placed with persons who have criminal convictions for animal abuse or neglect.

3. Adequate records shall be maintained of all animals received or managed by signatory organizations. Persons receiving animals shall be required to maintain adequate records of mortality or breeding successes, and signatory organizations shall institute adequate monitoring or reporting protocols.

4. Organizations shall take steps to ensure that no animal that has been the subject of a confiscation or donation shall be sold or otherwise traded by persons who receive such animals under any adoption or rehoming program. It is recommended that organizations retain legal ownership and title of all animals placed, and shall retain the right to recover them should the terms of adoption or rehoming be breached.

Husbandry standards

1. Organizations shall prepare and publish a basic set of guidelines detailing the minimum standards of care that shall be considered acceptable under any adoption or rehoming program. Such guidelines shall draw the attention of potential rehomers or adopters to the need for proper dietary and environmental management, and to the need for adequate hygiene and quarantine measures.

2. Organizations shall retain the right to carry out inspections of rehomed or adopted animals at any reasonable time. Where unacceptable standards of husbandry are confirmed, action shall be taken to recover placed animals and to terminate any rehoming or adoption agreement with the offender.

Veterinary management

1. Organizations shall stress the need to refer to qualified veterinary surgeons for the diagnosis and treatment of all animals.

2. Euthanasia shall not be employed except under qualified veterinary direction, and only then where no realistic possibility of recovery exists, or to relieve an unacceptable degree of suffering. Euthanasia shall only be used where it can be justified on veterinary grounds, and for no other reason.

This is a first draft of a proposed code of ethics that it is hoped many will find acceptable. Suggestions and comments can be sent privately to: