Archive for September, 2015


Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

The announcement of London Zoo’s latest project has got us thinking!

Here, my friend and colleague, Anna Wade, reviews the zoo’s plans to take visitors ‘on safari’. See what you think!

Blogging off!


“The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has recently announced plans to build a “safari camp” next to the new Asiatic lion enclosure at London Zoo. The zoo has received planning permission to build nine cabins for visitors to stay overnight, on the perimeter of the new enclosure, which is set to open to the public in 2016. Let’s take a closer look at these new plans:

ZSL has stated that the cost of building the enclosure will be £5,200,000. I’ll repeat that: £5,200,000. Surely this sum would be better spent on efforts to save wild lion populations in India? According to the ZSL annual report, the Society’s entire annual spend on conservation programmes in 2014 was £6,030,000. In other words, the equivalent of 86% of ZSL’s annual spend on conservation programmes has been spent on an enclosure currently set to house three female Asiatic lions.

At that cost, the enclosure must surely be a reasonable size, right? Well, at 2,500sqm (0.6 acres), maybe not. Plans for the nine cabins indicate that each will be 167sqm, covering a total of 1503sqm (0.4 acres) with further space allocated for a communal garden. It is a sad irony that the visitors, who get to stay a night or two at the zoo, may end up having more space than the animals who will spend their entire lives there.

This is not the first time London Zoo has offered visitors the opportunity to stay after hours.  Last year, “Zoo Lates” (now re-branded as “Sunset Safaris”) received significant criticism after reports surfaced of inappropriate behaviour from visitors, which led to questions over the zoo’s ability to safeguard animal welfare.

London Zoo correctly states that the wild population of Asiatic lions is in peril. However, with the chances of release to the wild for these animals or their progeny being virtually zero, protection of the remaining wild Asiatic lion population is paramount to the continued survival of this species in its natural habitat: in my view, keeping lions at London Zoo will not ensure this outcome. Furthermore, some might regard the construction of visitor accommodation in the zoo is little more than a gimmick at the expense of much needed larger enclosures for the animals and the application of resources towards keeping Asiatic lions in the wild – where they belong.

ZSL trustee report can be found at:

Speaking up for Animals

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Dear Friends of Wildlife

I am often sent letters and emails and Tweets from people asking why animals are treated the way they are.  And today I echo those many letters by asking the same simple question: WHY?

Why are hundreds of elephants killed each year as trophies?

Why were 442 hippo trophies imported into the US between 2012 and 2013, as well as 758 leopard trophies?

Why were a third of the wild wolves of Montana shot (230) in 2013?

Why were 180 wolves trapped in Wisconsin?

Why would anybody want to pay US$1,000 to shoot a giraffe or US$4,000 to kill a crocodile?

Why are there only 20,000 rhino left on the planet?

Why are there as few as 20,000 wild lions in Africa?

Why in the UK is it permissible to cull thousands of badgers in a deeply misguided effort to control bovine tuberculosis, when the killers have missed every target; the methodology is fundamentally flawed; the process fails to meet declared standards of humaneness; when it costs £7,000 to kill each badger; when genuine alternatives, such as vaccination, exist; and when the deaths of these badgers will not achieve the outcome we want to see – a consistent, long-term and significant reduction in bovine TB.

I simply don’t know the answer to all these whys…… but I do know why, together, we will continue, with Born Free and other groups around the world, to champion the cause of wildlife and seek an end to cruelty, suffering, persecution and exploitation. Because if we don’t, who will.

Blogging off



Friday, September 4th, 2015

Dear Friends of Wildlife,

So the Taiji dolphin slaughter has been ‘postponed’ due to bad weather. May the bad weather continue forever if that is the case!

Just how long can the Japanese authorities tolerate this sickening event which draws such widespread international condemnation from around the world?

Marches, rallies, petitions, documentaries, news articles…. The sheer volume of material expressing the outrage and frustration of tens of millions from almost every country – including Japan itself – must surely prevail one day.

But how can we bring about an end the Taiji as quickly as possible? Well stop going to captive dolphin shows would be one way. Evidence seems to make it clear that it is the live sale of dolphins for exploitation in dolphinaria, both in Japan and further afield, that generates the big money which pays for the annual scenes of brutality and bloody carnage.

The UK has no captive dolphins shows. The last one closed in the early 1990s and three of the last dolphins were released into the wild as part of the Into The Blue project which Born Free helped fund and coordinate.  But dolphin shows with their loud music, inane acts, concrete pools, chlorinated water and lifetime confinement are still a feature in Europe, North America, the Middle East, China and the Far East. These facilities survive simply because ill-informed people pay good money to watch these intelligent, social animals ‘perform’.

So, as I say, please don’t go. Don’t sustain a form of exploitation that has totally lost all credibility, perpetuates suffering and may rely on the Taiji bloodbath for its victims.

And if the powers that be can arrange to deliver stormy weather for the next two years or more, then the hunting will stop and maybe, just maybe, the Taiji dolphins can live wild and free – as nature intended.

Blogging off!