If London Zoo really cared about animals, they would cancel their rowdy 'Zoo Lates' parties

We should recognise these institutions for what they are: profitable prisons

Share

Allegations that visitors to London Zoo's "Zoo Lates" stripped off and attempted to enter the penguin pool as well as pouring beer over a tiger have provoked an understandable uproar in recent weeks. The City of Westminster is reportedly now investigating these and other incidents, including one in which visitors were said to be getting "touchy feely" with the baby penguins and another in which a man apparently asked a staff member, "Which penguin can I fight?" But while such idiocy has prompted calls for any perpetrators to be thrown to the lions, the real culprits would be the zoo managers, if they have  put profits before the needs of the animals.

Many of the animals on display at London Zoo have evolved highly sensitive hearing and a well-developed sense of smell to alert them to danger and to changes in their environment. The noise levels from the Zoo Lates crowds could be 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 level could be greatly elevated – but for these captive animals, there is no escape.

The profound levels of stress, anxiety and agitation that wild animals experience in captivity mean attacks on people occur with staggering regularity. In the last month, 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. The zoo has also stated that animal welfare is of "paramount importance" and only three people were removed from the sessions during 2013 and 2014. But if the zoo were truly concerned about protecting animals, surely 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 promote events which might 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.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

If children are obese then blame food manufacturers, not Zoella

Jane Merrick
Amos Yee arrives with his father at the State courts in Singapore on March 31  

Singapore's arrest of a 16-year-old YouTuber is all you need to know about Lee Kuan Yew's legacy

Noah Sin
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat