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Sea Lions were at risk of going blind at UK safari park

by Darren

Here’s another underwater image – a long horned cowfish from the Philippines.

However, I’d counsel you not to go looking for them on the internet.  Earlier tonight I was looking for the latin name to properly caption the image before exporting it (all of our images have the latin or scientific name of the species appended as this is useful to clients) and came across some dreadful images of these beautiful fish in home aquariums.  They are up to 20 inches long,  certainly not a species to be kept in a tank in your living room.  If you need to be convinced that captivity of wild animals is wrong, then please read on for a story that has broken over the past few weeks but which I only discovered this evening.

I was extremely saddened to learn that Defra inspectors have recently released a report that says that sea lions at Woburn Safari Park were at risk until last year,  due to being kept in chlorinated water causing eye ulcers and blindness.  A particular animal, Spratt, was found bumping into the sides of the tank because her eyes were so tightly shut, and she had been biting on wood to try and relieve the pain.  A keeper emailed bosses to say she was ashamed of the way the organisation was treating it’s animals.

There were also issues with cramped conditions for lions, evidence of fighting amongst lions, an unsafe enclosure for an elephant with potential to cause injury to the animal, staff and the public, and turtles kept in temporary tanks for months.

Many people, me included, have believed safari parks to be at the better end of captivity (if there is one) with larger areas for the animals and better treatment by specialised keepers, but this report shows this to be untrue – there is no up-side for the animals we remove from their natural habitat and place in a tank or pen or cage.  Like battery hens, it’s a product of a bygone age, and one we’d not accept if it was a new idea today.  I wish we’d consign it to the past.

If you want to read the stories for yourself, I’ve included some links below, but I’ll warn you that it’s not pretty.  I’m a grown-up 35 year old man sitting here on the verge of tears ….

If you want to do something positive to combat this atrocity, then I’d recommend you raise or give money to the Born Free Foundation who actively campaign to keep wild animals in the wild and to end the practice of keeping animals in zoos and circuses.  Both Louise and I are members and you can be too.  They deserve our support, and they need it now.

Daily Mirror – Sea Lions ‘at risk of going blind at zoo’

BBC – Woburn Safari Park criticised over ‘crowded’ lion pen

Telegraph – Woburn Safari Park animals ‘inadequately’ treated

Daily Mail – Woburn Safari Park slammed for locking up it’s lions in cramped pens for up to 18 hours

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