Pictures of dead animals allegedly left to rot in the grounds of Knowsley Safari Park have outraged animal rights campaigners and sparked a police investigation, which found the Merseyside attraction to be in breach of zoo regulations.
Staff have been told to change the way they dispose of dead animals, which came to light after shocking pictures were released by an ex-employee.
Penny Boyd, a photographer who worked at the Park for 10 years before leaving in September, alleges that animals were being unnecessarily killed and often left to rot away for up to 10 days.
Ms Boyd, 58, said: "It was despicable. I couldn’t carry on producing cute pictures to get Knowsley positive publicity knowing some of the animals might be culled and dumped to rot the next day."
Deer and bison are among the animals which appear
to have been dumped and left to decompose in an area
of the park which was not accessible to the general
public. In addition, a marmoset monkey was allegedly
kept alone in a small windowless room for five months.
The photographs were sent to Knowsley Council and
Captive Animals’ Protective Society (CAPS), which is a
Manchester based charity.
CAPS Director Liz Tyson said: “Shocking as the pictures
that we reveal are, what is perhaps even more shocking
is that killing animals is all part and parcel of zoo
practice. As we’ve seen here, corpses are sometimes
left lying around for many days."
After a Merseyside Police investigation, two regulation breaches were reported. The first was an animal by-product regulation, concerning a dead bison, and the second concerned firearm regulations within the park.
Knowsley Safari Park Manager, David Ross, said: “Knowsley Council have thoroughly investigated a number of allegations with our full co-operation.
"Only two issues have required further action by the park, both relating to operational matters - the storage and disposal of animal carcasses and firearms procedures.
"Both these have been swiftly addressed. It is important to note that the photos show either stillborn animals, animals that died of natural causes, or as a result of fighting, or animals put down by the vet due to injury," he added.
Representatives from Knowsley Safari Park claimed that some of the carcasses had been moved into positions which attracted “maximum photographic impact”.
By Anthony Webster
More JMU Journalism stories
Dead animals were left by waste disposal in Knowsley Safari Park, such as a baboon and several deer
Swine flu may have killed again >>
Deer carcasses left lying in the sun