Zoo `used electric rods to handle elephants'

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH zoo yesterday admitted breaching European guidelines by allowing its keepers to carry electric prods when handling elephants.

Blackpool Zoo manager Iain Valentine insisted the cattle prods, or "hotshots", were an integral part of the elephant management programme. But the Captive Animals Preservation Society, which exposed their use by keepers of four Asian elephants, said it was appalled.

Mr Valentine said the rods have to be available to meet health and safety regulations. "The piece of equipment is seen as an important safety tool when keepers are working in close proximity to an elephant."

He conceded that in untrained hands the prods could be abused, and that their use was not permitted in draft European guidelines on elephant management, but he felt this document would be amended.

"I, along with fellow zoo curators and directors, but more importantly elephant keepers, believe that the hotshot is an essential, modern piece of equipment which is... in trained hands, an additional safety measure."