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Expert statements · about the undercover investigation by Animal Equality

Liz Tyson · Director, Captive Animal Protection Society (CAPS)

“The evidence collected by Animal Equality in Spanish zoos is difficult to watch, but we implore anyone who might be thinking of visiting a zoo while on holiday to watch it nonetheless.

The conditions shown are, at times, shocking; the treatment of some animals is apparently both abusive and neglectful; the suffering of the animals, whether from physical or psychological causes, is apparent throughout.

As with any other commercial operation – where there is demand, there will be supply. It is time for demands to be made to stop this suffering and there is a very easy way that each and every one of us can make a difference: by voting with our feet and choosing not to visit the zoo.”

Rob Laidlaw · Cbiol MSB Executive Director, Zoocheck Canada

“The results of the Animal Equality investigation into conditions in Spanish zoos reveal a multitude of systemic problems.

Inadequate housing, poor husbandry practices, injured and ill animals, ubiquitous abnormal behaviours and substandard educational programming are just a few of the issues encountered. Clearly, the state of zoos in Spain is not acceptable.

I hope the Animal Equality investigation prompts a wholesale re-evaluation and phase out of zoos in Spain.”

Marc Bekoff · University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado. former Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society

“Zoos are not natural homes for animals and we should all work to phase them out.”

Dr. Lorraine Docherty· Chimpanzee rescue and rehabilitation specialist

“At Seville Zoo, Gina appears to be living on her own which is never acceptable.

Chimpanzees are highly sociable animals and living in groups is essential for their psychological well-being. Gina appears to be living in a barren and un-stimulating environment without even the basic comfort of bedding to get her off the concrete floor.

The enclosure is very bare and it’s construction shabby at best.At Zoobotanico Jerez, again there is a lack of bedding material for comfort for the chimps and the enclosure is bare, lacking areas where the chimpanzees can rest comfortably.

At Biopark, the rocks in the chimp exhibit provide little benefit to the chimpanzees and it appears that they only provide the tiny amount of shade available to them.

At Rio Safari Park, this exhibit is quite typical of many zoos, the painted walls are aesthetically pleasing for the public but they offer very little benefit to the chimps. A concern is that it appears that the chimps cannot get away from the viewing public so they are on constant view which will cause unnecessary stress.  In addition there is no vertical complexity which will encourage species appropriate behaviours such as brachiating.”

Dr. Joyce Poole and Petter Granli· ElephantVoices

“Elephants are intelligent and socially complex animals, and need autonomy, a network of their own species and lots of space to thrive.

The zoos mentioned may try to satisfy the interest of uncritical visitors, but they are certainly not covering the interests of their elephants. What visitors are seeing in tiny, unimaginative exhibits are animals suffering tremendously. The elephants are kept in conditions that are abusive and destructive for body and soul.

The day will come when people will realize that elephants in such zoos are telling little about what elephants really are - and a lot about those responsible for keeping them there. This report is extra inspiration for those of us that believe we must find sanctuaries for suffering elephants in Europe. The best way to educate the public about elephants and their protection is through animal-free, interactive exhibits - the next generation zoo.”

Samantha Lindley, MRCVS BVSc and Simon Adams, MsRCVS · Veterinary Advisors

“The images of the psittacines, bears and primates at the zoos visited during the investigation strongly indicate chronic poor husbandry and that the animals' well-being is not being addressed, whilst the others are strongly suggestive of the same.”

Dr. Mel Richardson · Captive Wild Animal and Veterinary Consultant

“I have more than 42 years’ experience caring for captive wild animals, from zookeeper to veterinarian. I have administered to wild animals in almost every conceivable venue: animal dealers, wild animal drive-through parks, zoos, circuses, movie and commercial animals, sanctuaries in even in the wild. My opinions below are based on my experience and the information provided to me by Animal Equality. I must commend Animal Equality for such an exhaustive investigation.

I can agree wholeheartedly with Animal Equality’s conclusions as stated in their report summary. The investigative report clearly demonstrates that, “these individuals are denied their freedom and housed in inappropriate environments.” The information provided to me establishes the lack of knowledge or education the owners and managers of these facilities possess.

I observed wild animals being housed in inadequate facilities and exhibiting all of the symptoms of psychological stress. I observed animals suffering from the ravages of captivity with none of their normal social, behavioral or environmental needs being met. I observed ignorant so- called zoo trainers putting the public’s lives at risk exposing them to adult lions and tigers.

In conclusion Animal Equality’s investigation clearly demonstrates Institutionalized Suffering in Spanish Zoos and these practices should be abolished.”

Albert Lopez · Former Head Trainer of marine mammals in Barcelona Zoo

"Dolphins in exhibits often swim with their eyes closed due to irritation that is produced by:

But yes, the water was clean and shiny …. just as the public likes."

Barry Kent MacKay · Canadian Representative, Born Free USA

"The Spanish zoos I have visited, and pictures of Spanish zoos I have seen feature a plethora of ways in which birds should not be treated.

Inappropriate cage wire, lack of shelter, badly chosen foods, lack of protection from throngs of people, stereotypical behaviour… all those things are present, no doubt as a result of lack of knowledge.

But all the regulations in the world won't allow us to justify imprisoning birds in the first place. I think zoos tend to simplify things down to just the bird, isolated from all that contributes to its natural existence."