Noah's Ark suspended by zoo welfare group
zoo farm at the centre of allegations it is breeding tigers and camels to
be used in circuses has been temporarily stripped of its membership of the
country's leading zoo welfare association.
British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Biaza) has temporarily
suspended Noah's Ark's membership while an investigation into the claims
is carried out. Noah's Ark can stay open to the public because its licence
is controlled by North Somerset County Council. The
decision follows an investigation by the Captive Animals Protection Society
(Caps) at the farm.
female investigator, who secured work at the zoo farm as a volunteer for
two months during the summer, worked alongside staff where she claimed to
have discovered that the zoo was breeding animals to be used in the Great
British Circus owned by Martin Lacey. The investigator also claimed the
zoo was in breach of animal disposal regulations following the death of
female Bengal tiger Tira earlier this year.
claims that Tira, who died 10 days after the birth of three cubs, had her
head and paws cut off, her skin removed and her body buried in the zoo grounds.
Caps, a registered charity, has reported its findings to various authorities,
including North Somerset Council, and called for Noah's Ark owners Christina
and Anthony Bush to have their zoo licence revoked. Biaza has strict guidelines
for its members to adhere to and, if a breach is found, zoos can be stripped
of their membership. Biaza chiefs have asked Mr and Mrs Bush to provide
them with full details of their operation. The
association's membership and licensing committee is due to meet in November
to discuss the allegations.
executive director Miranda Stevenson said: "I can confirm we have suspended
Noah's Ark membership of Biaza pending the investigation." Caps
spokesman Craig Redmond said: "We welcome the news that Biaza has suspended
the zoo's membership. This is recognition of the seriousness of the complaint
we put forward and we hope that membership will be revoked entirely.
trust that investigations by North Somerset Council and Trading Standards
into zoo licensing issues and the burial of Tira's body will also result
in serious action being taken."Mr
and Mrs Bush have denied the allegations and said the farm had no link to
the circus and that the animals belonged to Linctrek Ltd, a company which
provides trained animals for use in film, other collections and TV.
as well as being the owner of the Great British Circus, is also a director
for the zoo farm said: "The welfare of the animals is exceptional with
Noah's Ark passing government and institutionally accredited inspections.
We are in consultation with Biaza regarding our membership and are fully
committed to discussing any changes Biaza may deem necessary."
Somerset Council, which is responsible for licensing the zoo, is also investigating
the claims. The investigation has also prompted protests from animal rights
organisations, with members of the Western Animal Rights Network staging
a demonstration outside the farm gates earlier this month. The
zoo farm opened in 1998 and now is home to more than 100 species of animals
including giraffes, rhinos, tigers, emus, wallabies, camels and this year
welcomed more than 112,000 visitors through its doors.
new £200,000 tiger territory opened in July this year.