Freedom for Animals has revealed that Knowsley Safari Park has breached animal disposal legislation by leaving dead animals to rot in the open for up to ten days.

The zoo avoided being prosecuted by the council by building an enclosed area to store dead bodies. Merseyside police also became involved over the firearms licenses due to the way in which animals were killed. Police made recommendations over the issuing of weapons to keepers and improving record-keeping of firearms used by staff.

The evidence came to light after a worker at the zoo provided FFA with a dossier of photographs. Penny Boyd had lived in the zoo grounds for ten years, working as Knowsley’s official photographer. She became increasingly concerned about how and why animals were being killed and the distress this caused staff.

She said: “I couldn’t carry on producing cute pictures to get Knowsley positive publicity knowing some of the animals might be culled and dumped to rot the next day.”

Knowsley Safari Park is owned by Lord Derby and based on his estate at Prescot, Merseyside. Lord Derby is also the licence holder for the zoo.

Penny is just one of an increasing number of zoo workers coming to us to expose practices normally hidden from public view. They recognise that we can and does make a difference in revealing how zoos really operate – in this case the lives and deaths of animals.

Liz Tyson, Former Director of Freedom for Animals, said:

“Shocking as the pictures that we reveal are, what is perhaps even more shocking is that killing animals is all part and parcel of zoo practice. Zoo breeding programmes are in place to encourage people through the turnstiles and ensure a constant supply of animals to show to paying visitors. Rather than being released into the wild, the sad truth is that animals are routinely killed as they become surplus to requirements. As we’ve seen here, corpses are sometimes left lying around for many days; not only creating an environmental hazard but also distressing staff who are unhappy about the slaughtering.

“Often lauded as a more humane alternative to a traditional zoo setup, we urge people to scratch below the surface of the public perception of safari parks, to see the evidence of what goes on behind closed doors.

“Zoos are not protectors and saviours of animals. Effective conservation has long been shown to be concerned with the protection of entire ecosystems and confining individual species with no opportunity for future release cannot, and will not, achieve this aim. With this in mind, it is vital that resources are not directed towards paying entrance fees to zoos and safari parks but towards the support of true conservation initiatives in these animals’ natural habitats.

Freedom for Animals urges other people who work in zoos (as well as circuses or the exotic pet trade) to come to us with any information regarding practices of concern. We will treat all information in strict confidence.“The increasing public exposure of these practices is only made possible by individuals speaking out. We encourage anyone who has concerns on any zoo or safari park to let us know so we can make a difference to the lives of the animals involved.”