Calls for zoo closures after rare Siberian tigress found drowned

Campaigners have called for the phased closure of zoos after a Siberian tiger used for breeding purposes was found drowned in the enclosure of a zoo in Norfolk.

A full veterinary examination is under way at Banham Zoo, near Diss in Norfolk, after a post-mortem examination on the body of a pregnant Siberian tiger concluded the cause of death as drowning. The tiger, called Malyshka, had already given birth to two cubs and was pregnant with more. Further tests this week will examine if the five-year-old may have suffered a seizure. Martin Goymour, the zoo's director, said: "All the zoo staff, particularly her keepers, are very much saddened by her loss. We are professional in what we do in animal care at all times, but something like this hits home. We've kept tigers for years and the enclosure has been successful.

"Very few zoos in Europe are able to handle tigers, which is why the loss of Malyshka is such a severe blow," he told the BBC. "She was very important to the European breeding programme and was number three in the hierarchy of genetic diversity for captive tigers. We are also in contact with European stud book co-ordinators to find a suitable replacement female for our conservation programme involving either the senior male or one of the youngsters."

But after Mr Goymour's comments yesterday, campaigners called for a debate about breeding rare species in captivity. There are thought to be only 450 Siberian tigers left in the wild.

"There are still serious welfare issues regarding keeping animals in zoos and the argument of captive breeding is utterly irrelevant," said Craig Redmond, campaigns director for the Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS).

"There are so few cases where captive animals have been bred and brought back into the wild with success. Each time a situation like this occurs, it needs to be thoroughly investigated so that the public are made aware of the actual circumstances of the death and the necessity of the zoo – not be automatically led down the route of conservation. Zoos do not have a valid role any more. They are there purely for education purposes or a day out."

The comments mirror those of Angela Smith, the charities minister, who earlier this month denounced the concept of zoos, describing them as "relics of the Victorian era". Arguing that while certain venues "tried very hard", it was necessary to address the issue of animal welfare. Her comments were dismissed as "naive" by zoo managers while the Government announced that it had no plans to close any premises.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower