Zoos are not particularly pleasant places for animals to live, but it appears for the poor beasts housed in London Zoo, life just got a whole lot worse.
Why? Because a few years ago, the world’s oldest Zoo apparently decided it would be a great idea to stage after-hours parties, which it advertises under the banner of a wild night out.
Held every Friday night through the summer period, these wild nights out would have a negative enough impact on the animals’ sleep patterns and stress levels, but when you factor drunken adults into the mix, then the wild nights out have just turned toxic.
According to the Daily Mail, drunken revelers have been caught taunting and abusing the animals at the zoo’s after-hours parties.
Recent incidents have included a man pouring beer on a tiger, a woman punching a bird, a drunken female stripping off before attempting to enter the penguin enclosure, and the routine squashing of butterflies underfoot.
There are also reports that an intoxicated female attempted to enter the lion enclosure.
Alongside the drunken abuse, animals at the zoo have also been greatly disturbed and distressed by the loud noise and flash photography which accompanies any gathering of drunken homo-sapiens on a wild night out.
The wild night out events, officially called “Zoo Lates” are said to attract a younger age group to the Zoo and generate £800,000 a year to fund its conservation work. So the zoo probably regards the party nights as a necessary evil, but where do they draw the line?
A source at the zoo said:
“During the day, welfare and conservation is of the utmost priority. In the evening, that seems to go out of the window, and the animals become a commodity. That’s not what zoos are about, but there’s a lot of money in it.”
More than 6,000 people attend each party night at London Zoo. Tickets can cost up to £35 with some free wine thrown in for good measure.
A visitor to the zoo in June told The Guardian how she saw a woman accidentally punching a bird in the aviary, amongst other examples of abuse that resemble a scene straight out of Bedlam.
The female witness said:
“I don’t know how drunk she was but clearly she had been drinking for a while. She stumbled and inadvertently punched the side of the bird and the bird took off. I could not believe it.
“I saw animals being taunted, and saw people banging on the glass. One man was rubbing himself on the glass in the snake enclosure. In the butterfly exhibit, people were so careless, crushing butterflies on the ground.”
Although London Zoo have confirmed many of the reported allegations, a zoo spokesperson believes the events are safe and said:
“We would ban alcohol if we thought it was necessary but at the moment we see no need to do so.”
What do you think. Has the world famous zoo lost sight of conservation in favor of making money?