August 2022

Every week during the summer months, Yorkshire Wildlife Park hosts live music events after hours. Large crowds gather during the events, as ticket holders gain a pass to the zoo, and then admission to a live show in the evening. Under the guise of allowing attendees to witness the park in the evening, and experience a “Safari Night” at the venue, the concerts are seemingly a new way for the zoo to gain extra profit for the business owners and shareholders. 

Wowcher is driving demand through discounted tickets - and funding animal suffering by doing so.

Magical events - or are they?

Classed as a “magical event” for families, the reality is far from idyllic for the hundreds of animals who are forced to call the park their home. After a long day of enduring frequent visitor interactions, and the higher levels of noise and stress this already inflicts on all the residents on a daily basis, the inclusion of evening events into their close surroundings creates an unwarranted level of discomfort for a more sustained period of time. Many species become more active after dusk, so the change in atmosphere during these hours will affect their natural behaviours and routines substantially. This in turn leads to higher stress responses, negatively impacting their welfare overall. Allowing evening entertainment at the park means that a - somewhat - restful time previously for the animals, becomes another opportunity to disrupt them. Taking away the already small amount of private time they may have relished away from peering eyes. 

Locked away for your entertainment

Noise levels during these events are widely known to have a catastrophic effect on the captive animals living in the area. Many studies from the ‘Applied Animal Behaviour Science Journal’ have already stated how loud music and vibrations are known to cause significant distress responses in zoo animals, with many zoos responding to concerns by claiming to lock the animals in their enclosures for the duration of the concert to diminish their stress. But this begs the question, if keepers and zoo owners know these events negatively impact the mental and physical health of the animals, why are they continuing to hold them on zoo grounds? Why should animals have to be locked into even more cramped conditions within their already lacking enclosures in order for more people to enter the zoo and have a party?

The real reason, of course, is for profit. Zoo’s claim to be conservation focussed, but what many visitors do not realise, is that they are first and foremost, a business.

Owners have worked out that they can put even more money into their pockets by exploiting the park's residents and land, and erecting large concert venues to draw more people through the doors, often after hours. Yorkshire Wildlife Park is a perfect example of this. 

Conservation con

In 2020/21, the zoo received a 15 million cash influx to inject into the business. They used the money to build a project coined “The Hive”, which features “a boutique shopping facility” and hotel.

Why, if they are a zoo focussed on animal welfare and conservation as they claim to be, are they spending such incredible amounts of money on facilities that fail to help better, or even consider, the lives of the captive animals housed there, or help the suffering wild populations of the species they claim to care for?

Instead, funds such as these are being funnelled into high noise level events that are known to cause debilitating mental illness conditions such as zoochosis; making their already unnatural environments even more uncomfortable and distressing.

'Big Night Out'

Sadly, it’s a widespread issue today with many zoos. A previous Freedom for Animals undercover investigation at Bristol Zoo's “Big Night Out” event in July 2016 caught zoo staff on camera stating how the loud music and visitors present “do stress [the animals] out” so they were “stereotyping” by pacing back and forth to cope. And even before that, in 2012 at the “Zoo Project” held at Port Lympne Zoo, investigators filmed drunk visitors harassing the animals, threatening to jump into enclosures and selling drugs on the premises. Party events and animals do not mix. The negative impacts are consistently unsettling, and continue to put animals at risk.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park will counteract noise level claims, by saying they set off “bangless fireworks” and are now replacing fireworks entirely with a “laser light show for 2022”. But, whilst they continue to hold loud music events at the venue, we know this consideration is nothing but a smokescreen. If bangless fireworks are too distressing for the animals, then a live concert, and the crowds they bring, most definitely are too.

Every discounted ticket Wowcher sells, and gains commission on, for events such as Yorkshire Wildlife Parks “Safari Nights”, causes more animal suffering, and makes them complicit.

Discount code companies, such as Groupon, have already been called out by animal charities in the past, for promoting venues that regularly exploit animals for profit. These businesses have a duty of care to ensure the promotions and events they advertise and gain funding from aren’t negatively impacting animals, but as yet, have failed to provide a comprehensive and public animal welfare policy to ensure animals are better protected.

Wowcher's initial response

When Wowcher’s customer service team were asked about an animal welfare policy by Freedom for Animals - to better understand what their ethos was to ensure animals were protected on the offerings they were publicising - they, worryingly, couldn’t provide a specific set of values.

The company claims to value honesty and integrity on their website, as well as offering family experiences that last a lifetime, but what about the lives of the animals they are helping to exploit? Creating memories shouldn't come at the expense of another’s happiness.

We are calling on Wowcher, as the one of the leading discount code providers, to stop promoting and selling tickets for events such as Yorkshire Wildlife Parks “Safari Nights”, and we implore people to find alternative options for family events that don't exploit and distress animals. 

What you can do to help captive animals!

Use our online form to contact Wowcher today and ask them to end ties with Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Share the action on social media and tag @Wowcher to spread awareness of this campaign

You can donate to help fuel to the fight for an end to the captivity of animals

Become a Freedom Champion and set up a monthly gift