Categories: Zoo Check Campaign News

Born Free comments on the reality behind the drama

The film “We Bought a Zoo” is the Hollywood adaptation of the account of Benjamin Mee’s purchase of the former Dartmoor Wildlife Park. As the release of the film looms, media reports appear to characterise the purchase of the zoo by the Mees as a “rescue”: “Unless a buyer was found, most of the animals would have been shot” (Daily Mail, 17 Dec 2011).

In reality, the Born Free Foundation and others were in regular contact with the relevant authorities at the time, pushing for the closure of the zoo and working on putting together a rehoming package for the animals. To the best of our knowledge, at no time were the animals at risk of being “shot” – rather, they faced a future at other, perhaps better-equipped facilities. Sadly, we can only assume that financial interests, a desire to maintain a local tourist attraction and/or pressure from within the zoo industry conspired to see the zoo sold to a self-confessed novice, with the subsequent widely-reported animal escapes and financial problems.

The film is set and filmed in Southern California, and will undoubtedly feature many captive and performing wild animals. Born Freeis very concerned about the message using animals in this way sends, and for the long-term welfare of the animals used. US performing animal regulations and standards do little to guarantee the welfare of the animals concerned and guard against welfare problems associated with raising, keeping and exploiting wild animals for entertainment.

via We Bought a Zoo.