CAPS The Captive Animals’ Protection Society have announced that they are shocked to learn that no action will be taken over the West Midland Safari Park’s rare white lion cubs ending up performing in a Japanese Circus.
Liz Tyson, Director of CAPS, said:
“The lack of action by BIAZA simply compounds the fears we raised last year on this issue and goes to show that the zoo industry will not hold its own members to account. It is for the public, then, to take on that responsibility and vote with their feet by staying away”.
The story began in 2010 when CAPS reportedly :
“obtained footage of white lions being trained for a circus-style performance at Oxfordshire-based animal training business, Amazing Animals (which also goes by the name Heythrop Zoological Gardens). A few months later, information was received that the same big cats had been supplied to Amazing Animals by West Midland Safari Park and were due to be shipped to Japan to join the Kinoshita Circus later in that year. Further research carried out more recently by Lion Aid has shown import and export records match with the information provided, and monitoring of captive lion populations appears to confirm that West Midland is the only UK zoo with sufficient white lions to be the source…..
The Kinoshita Circus’ website states that four white lions currently being used in shows were all born in “a UK zoo” and that “when they became 6 months old, they were moved to an animal training facility in UK. They beganhttps://rosedixon.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1088&action=edit&message=10 training there when they were 18 months old”. A Japanese investigator has confirmed that one lion has since been moved to a zoo in western Japan, following fighting with the other animals. The lion is reported to have developed a “nervous disease called autonomic ataxia” and his mane has fallen out completely.”
For more information or to join CAPS go to http://www.captiveanimals.org/news/2013/01/shock-as-it-is-confirmed-that-no-action-will-be-taken-by-zoo-trade-body-over-lion-cub-to-circus-scandal
BIAZA is the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. I quote from their website :
“BIAZA has over 100 members who must do more than comply with zoo legislation in Britain and Ireland. Member collections must undertake significant work in the field of animal welfare, conservation, education and research. Members must follow and comply with the Memorandum and Articles of Association (pdf) and Codes of Practice of the Association. All members must adhere to the Animal Transaction Policy (pdf), which ensures that all animal movements conform to the highest ethical and welfare standards.”
I had a look at the Animal Transaction Policy. I wonder why West Midlands Safari Park decided to release the RARE white lion cubs from their facility. Apparently they can if they end up with a surplus of animals due to a larger litter than expected. These are the transaction guidelines that they have to follow :
A. Breeding and disposal of surplus:
BIAZA collections MUST breed and dispose of animals in a responsible manner. Members are expected to look at the ethos of the collections that they are sending animals to and what they stand for, not just the particular facilities for the species concerned. BIAZA collections MUST NOT
(a) send animals to zoos or aquariums with inadequate facilities and/or expertise;
(b) send animals to institutions other than zoos or aquariums which would not normally be considered suitable outlets, which may include circuses, some research institutions, animal dealers, welfare organisations involved in inappropriate reintroductions, etc.,
(c) Private individuals, unless absolutely certain of their ability to care for the animal”
Note that section (b) says that they should not send surplus animals to what “would not normally be considered suitable outlets, which may include circuses”
What do they mean by “not normally” and what are the criteria for categorising and what are their rulings based on ?
I think that BIAZA need to be asked a lot of questions. They have not as yet issued a public statement . I am going to rattle their cages and ask for a full explanation of their decision not to take any action against WMSP. Of course, I know what they will say. The lion cubs were not sent directly to the Japanese Circus by the Park but by Amazing Animals. The question is, how much did WMSP know about Amazing Animals? In my opinion, as we are talking about animal welfare, the link between the two organisations needs to be put under the microscope.
I will be sending a letter to BIAZA and will come back to you with any response.