Zoo animals need more protection from foolhardy humans.

The demise of Eko, an endangered tiger at Naples zoo, is another example of why zoo animals need more protection from foolhardy human visitors.

The death by shooting of Eko, an endangered tiger at Naples Zoo, is another example of why zoo animals need more protection from human visitors. The emphasis should be more on keeping the animals safe from us rather than the other way round.

Killing endangered captive animals through no fault of their own.

Captive zoo animals, particularly endangered species, must feel pretty positive about their lives and existence. They are more often than not pampered as valued inmates, usually part of a breeding programme and are celebrity attractions. Little do they realise though that in the blink of an eye they can be killed through no fault of their own.

Incidents over the last couple of decades have proved that it is an unfortunate fact that no zoo animal is completely safe at the hands of their humans keepers. Recently, (December 2021) yet another endangered animal had its life cut short by the idiotic behaviour of a human. This time it was a  critically endangered Malaysian tiger named Eko in the Naples Zoo in Florida. The unfortunate animal was shot and wounded, then sedated and finally died of his injuries all because of failures in health and safety, staff training and our desire to treat all animals as fluffy beings

The zoo was quick to issue a statement that Eko was much loved and died quickly from internal bleeding. They have set up a conservation fund for people to honour his death and asked the public to respect the feelings of the staff. I am sure Eko would have been pleased.

Zoo animals need more protection from foolhardy humans.

His early death was caused by a contract cleaner, who decided to put his arm through the bars to presumably stroke Eko who grabbed and mauled the arm of this unfamiliar human who was invading his space. The comment from the zoo was “This was a tragic encounter at our world-class zoo facility.” Hardly world class if they allow unsupervised outsiders to behave in such a manner.

Eko the tiger joins many others who over the years have suffered similar fates. It has become a regular habit for us to kill critically endangered captive animals through no fault of their own.

In September 2021 another tiger was shot and killed at the Delhi Zoo when a young man decided to jump down into its enclosure. And of course there is the case of the infamous shooting of 17 year old Harambe, the endangered lowland gorilla, who was shot by a Cincinnati zoo marksman when a child fell into his enclosure.

Harambe gorilla with child in moat Cincinnati zoo
Harambe was shot and killed even though he didn’t appear aggressive.

Human life will always take precedence over that of an animal.

Zoo officials were afraid for the child’s life and although the zoo was criticised for not doing more to save the child and Harambe, Mr Holloway, a zoo spokesman stated, screams from the crowd further agitated Harambe and it’s a horrible call to have to makebut human life will always take precedence over the animal.

Zoo animals are also regularly killed in the name of research and conservation, a practice called zoonasia and mainly kept hidden from the public. This was highlighted in the case of Marius the giraffe at Copenhagen Zoo who was killed because he didn’t fit the criteria for breeding his species. His death was covered worldwide in the press and social media.

There has been much discussion worldwide in the past of the dangers to the public visiting zoos particularly after each fatal incident. It has been estimated that there have been 256 injuries to the public and keepers over the last 26 years but only 33 deaths. This figure seems rather conservative. But it is more a question of how many animals the zoos are killing.

Time to keep captive endangered species away from the public.

The moral of the story for captive zoo animals is that their life is at the discretion of zoo scientists, veterinary surgeons, zoo directors and the actions of the public.  Although animals like Harambe and Eko may be sentient, are endangered and protected species, are disappearing at an alarming rate in the wild and maybe doing there bit for conserving their species by being part of a breeding program, none of this saves them or is of any consequence if they react to some stupidity on our part.

We will never save the life of an animal at the expense of a human, but we could accept they are wild animals and not retaliate when a human causes an incident. And if we are serious about saving species by zoo breeding, keep the animals away and out of view of the public so they can get on with the business of breeding undisturbed like humans prefer.

“Saving Britain’s Worst Zoo.”

BBC documentary “Saving Britain’s Worst Zoo” highlights what is so wrong with our attitude to zoos.

There shouldn’t be a ‘worst’ zoo in the UK in the first place.

BBC Wales and iPlayer are showing a documentary series Saving Britains Worst Zoo” which depicts how a family buy a zoo called ‘Animalarium’ in Wales even though they admit We didn’t have any idea of what we were doing.” There shouldn’t be a worst zoo in the first place if licensing authorities and inspectors were doing their job properly. So where were they and how can it be possible to allow such people to buy a zoo with dangerous animals? Do we really take public and animal safety so lightly.

“a place in the deepest depths of no-onesville very much like a zoo where species of a non-human form are kept and caged…and often escape”

ANIMALARIUM – Urban Dictionary definition.

In 2016 a zoo called Animalarium in the town of Borth, Wales came up for sale and was bought by a couple who by their own admission didn’t have any experience and within two years animals had escaped and died and they ran up a £350,000 debt. But sadly it appears few people see any problem or query how this could happen in our country of animal lovers with all our animal protection laws.

This is particularly so with the BBC, who appear to be encouraging such actions by not just showing one program but a whole series to advertise the zoo. The owners were interviewed on the BBC Breakfast show on the 23 July 2019 with smiles and commendation for their honesty as though they were some kind of heroes.

Borth Zoo or to use its hip name of Animalarium was sold by its owners of 15 years in 2016. In their media advertising of the sale they described who they were willing to sell to in this way:

“I would expect them to have at least some interest or experience and to research what running a zoo actually entails. The practical problems are a cross between running a boarding school and a prison. Anyone interested in the sale needs to have some experience of keeping exotic animals, but not necessarily from a zoo background as the staff are all experienced. Running a zoo is hard work but very rewarding.”

“We didn’t have any idea of what we were doing”

The family who bought the zoo were an “animal-mad couple” with three children who always wanted to live in Wales and were quoted as saying “we wanted a small petting farm to do animal and people therapy. We had 40 animals before we moved. We used to breed tortoises and had chickens, rabbits, chinchillas, everything. We didn’t have much of an idea what we were doing but everything I don’t know I research.” It would appear they also bought it as it had a nice two bedroom bungalow with sea views and of course they were animal lovers and had owned pets so had all the experience they needed to take on a zoo.

Should such animals be in the hands of people who do not what they are doing.

Their initial inept attempts at operating a zoo led to escapes and deaths of animals. In October 2017, a lynx escaped for 12 days before being shot in case it harmed “children.” A week later a staff member managed to strangle another lynx with a catch-pole (a rope noose on a pole) which was described as an accident but was probably due to lack of training in using such an implement. In the case of the escaped Lynx it was two days before they noticed it missing because the enclosure was apparently too overgrown to spot it. It seemed not to occur to them to search the enclosure in case it was sick, injured or dead.

At this point the local authority intervened and closed the zoo to the public for five months while they made over 26 improvements allegedly running up a debt of £350,000. Initially their licence to keep dangerous animals such as the lions and leopard was withdrawn but later reinstated. The zoo was obviously rundown when they bought it which doesn’t say much for the local authority licensing officers who should have been checking it. Inexplicably, the ban on keeping dangerous “category one” animals was then lifted by Ceredigion council as long as a qualified keeper was present. But why wasn’t there a qualified keeper in the first place?

The park’s owners claim that they act like a rescue centre for exotic animals and take in unwanted pets and animals from other zoos to provide them with a safe place to live for the rest of their lives. But how safe are their long term prospects.

One could pardon them on account of their naivety and put it all down as a steep learning curve, but at what cost. At least two lives of beautiful lynxes were lost while they learned on the job. Do we really take such lives so lightly. Should we be allowing the sale of zoos and similar animal attractions to anyone who feels they want to own one despite their experience and qualification. I blame the local authorities and lack of regulation for the deaths of the two lynxes.

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