London Zoo Allegations Highlight Captive Animals' Suffering
  • 04
  • Aug

London Zoo Allegations Highlight Captive Animals’ Suffering

Letting drunken humans spend a night out in a zoo was never going to be a good idea. The City of Westminster is investigating a series of reported incidents at London Zoo’s “Zoo Lates”, including allegations that visitors stripped off and attempted to enter the penguin pool, poured beer over a tiger and got “touchy feely” with baby penguins.

CC Tiger London

These idiotic acts aren’t the only reasons why the Zoo Lates are a deeply distressing experience for the animals on display. The noise levels from the crowds are much louder than anything to which most of these animals have ever been exposed. Add to that the increase in smells from the crowds and the alcohol consumption as well as the visual impact of the increase in visitors, and the animals’ stress levels will be greatly elevated.

As an article by our Associate Director Mimi Bekhechi in The Independent this week explains, these allegations are just another example of the zoo industry putting profits above the welfare and needs of animals:

The profound levels of stress, anxiety and agitation that wild animals experience in captivity mean attacks on people occur with staggering regularity. This week alone, a 16-month-old girl was scratched by a lion in a circus in France, a zookeeper was bitten by a tiger in Australia, a woman in the US lost a finger to a lion in a zoo and a boy had his hand ripped off by a tiger in a zoo in Brazil. All these attacks were preventable and utterly predictable. Captive animals are not permitted to engage in normal behaviour, such as running, jumping or hunting. Every facet of their lives is controlled, including when and what they eat, when they sleep and with whom they mate, so is it any wonder that they lash out in frustration? Patrons of what London Zoo actively promotes as “a wild night out” are there to party. Rowdy, drunk humans and captive wild animals make for an even more dangerous combination for all concerned.

With tickets costing up to £35, the zoo claims that Zoo Lates bring in important revenue, generating £800,000 a year to fund its “conservation” work. But if the zoo were truly concerned about protecting animals, any event which posed even the slightest risk to the animals would be cancelled immediately.

Zoos put the “con” in conservation. Why else would they be raising money to keep animals incarcerated as living exhibits instead of asking the public to donate to schemes that would protect them in their native habitats? When, in 2007, London Zoo spent £5.3m on a new gorilla enclosure, Ian Redmond, the chief consultant to the UN Great Apes Survival Partnership, said, “£5m pounds for three gorillas when national parks are seeing that number killed every day for want of some Land Rovers, trained men and anti-poaching patrols. It must be very frustrating for the warden of a national park to see”.

It’s bad enough that the London Zoo’s permanent residents have no way of escaping their day-to-day confinement, but to deliberately encourage and promote events which pose a threat to them defies belief. Everyone who genuinely cares about tigers and all the other individuals held captive inside zoos should recognise these institutions for what they are: profitable prisons that don’t give a monkey’s about the individuals in their “care”.

Once they realise what zoos are really like for the animals imprisoned in them, most people stay away. There are many genuinely rewarding ways to learn about wild animals, without snatching them from the wild, such as watching nature documentaries or becoming an expert about the wildlife in your local area.

Photo: “London Zoo” by S. Pakhrin / CC BY 2.0

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  1. avatar Karen Cobb says:

    Last July, as a firm’s outing we went to a late night at ZSL. The music was loud, the people louder. Being an ardent supporter for animal welfare I was distressed. I spent most of my time wondering around alone as people, screamed, drank and more. I was up by the Lions where a ground of 9 men were banging on the glass of the small Lion enclosure, the Lions were pacing, obviously distressed. There was no keepers around, only a skeleton staff. I asked these men to stop and in return go some verbal abuse (which I can handle as the Lions came first). I kepts on and on until it nearly came to violence. I went for help, couldn’t find anyone. When I did find someone all I got was, don’t worry the Lions will be ok, laughed and walked off. I left, never to return to ZSL again.

  2. avatar lynn Cowley says:

    It should never be allowed. Humans are stupid. Its bad enough that the poor animals are imprisoned without being tormented and abused by vile people.

  3. avatar Martine Vaffier says:

    Zoom have to ne abolished! Lions must live in the jungle, not in cages! Enough of that!

  4. avatar Martine Vaffier says:

    Sorry: I wrote: zoos!

  5. avatar Sylvia Browning says:

    Zoos are meant to protect Animals and keep them safe.

    Stop this horror of Zoo Lates. We will never visit until you do.

    I wrote to London Zoo about this. Their reply shows disregard for animal welfare.

    I fear that their excellent reputation is under threat because of these riotous events.

    Stop using animals to gain revenue. Animals in zoos need rest at night. This is abuse of the zoos power over them. Stop Zoo Lates.

  6. This ridiculous event must end now! Tell them to go elsewhere in their drunken stupor and to leave the zoo animals alone for good!

  7. avatar Joy ross says:

    London zoo be very ashamed of your selfs for no thought for your animals at all ! No excuses for this ! How can you be aloud to get away with this, very wrong, I’m ashamed to be english when this can be aloud to happen, very angry !!!!! People need to stop going to zoos full stop !

  8. avatar Louise says:

    Why on earth is there alcohol sold on site at a zoo!? Can’t people go anywhere without having an alcoholic dirnk? Or is it that some peoples idea of fun is to get drunk and then go to the zoo to torment the animals!? If they are going to run Zoo lates they need to be properly managed, this sounds out of control.

  9. avatar Sandeepa says:

    Zoos should not be there at the first place. Animals should be left alone in their natural environment. Humans have innumerable other places for entertainment, picnics, day-outs, parties, night-outs…. ! What fun is there in watching suffering animals in captivity ? Totally avoidable !!! Existing zoos must take good care of animals and free those animals that can survive on their own. Zoos must be abolished !

  10. avatar Sally De Lacey says:

    Sorry London Zoo this is NOT acceptable – very disappointed and dismayed to read this posting.

  11. avatar Sean says:

    Where is the sense in selling alcohol in a zoo for loud, rowdy uncaring people to torment the animals AT NIGHT when they should finally be allowed some rest from humans? These late events are beyond ridiculous and should be stopped immediately! I’m appalled.

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