Pressure group ‘People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA), has written a letter to Edinburgh Zoo calling for the event to be called off as they believe it will create a stressful environment for the animals.
In a letter to Chris West, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Zoo, the charity noted that at a similar recent event at London Zoo, one reveller reportedly poured beer on a tiger, and another allegedly attempted to undress and enter the penguin enclosure.
Edinburgh Zoo Night’s are described as an “adult only” event, where visitors can enjoy street food and drinks in a “relaxed atmosphere.”
Kirsty Henderson, writing the letter on behalf of PETA said: “Scientific research shows that during normal opening hours, the presence of zoo visitors can have a detrimental impact on the animals’ welfare.
“”Zoo Nights”, which take place outside normal opening hours, while animals would normally be resting, are likely to have an even greater negative impact on animal welfare, particularly if the visitors behave in a manner that stresses the animals.”
The letter added: “Zoos are responsible for the safety of the animals in their care, and they must make that a priority.
“Allowing these late-night events - in which visitors will be permitted to consume alcohol in a “relaxed atmosphere” and enjoy other after-hours entertainment to “kick start” their Friday nights - does not demonstrate adequate consideration for animal welfare, as it puts profits before the animals’ well-being.”
A spokeswoman for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which runs Edinburgh Zoo, said:”Edinburgh Zoo Nights visitors have never shown behaviour of this nature, which we totally concur is unacceptable. Although alcohol is available in moderation, there is absolutely not a ‘drunken’ atmosphere.”
She added: “The events, of which there are only four, are planned in conjunction with our animal experts. Our keepers are very careful to monitor our animals’ behaviour at any evening event and these events are tailor-made to ensure there is no disturbance to them, with all entertainers and bars situated away from animal enclosures, even our disco is a silent one. Simply put, there is no one that cares more about the animals in our care than our keeping staff. The animals can also enjoy the added stimulus of visitors to the park with enrichment activities, evening feeds and later access outside in some cases. We would like to reassure you that we are confident that there are no welfare complications and the animals are always our priority.
“As a charity that receives no public funding we rely on gate attendance, events and sponsorship for our resources to care for animals and manage conservation, research and education programmes. This does mean exploring ways to increase our income in a world with escalating conservation challenges.
“We are also very much about education and Edinburgh Zoo Nights is very popular with younger people who enjoy being at the Zoo and are fascinated by the animals and engaged with keepers and other staff about our work.”
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