29th September 2020

Just before Borth Wild Animal Kingdom appeared in court in September over breaching their zoo licence conditions, Freedom for Animals visited 'Britain's worst zoo' to document the animals' lives behind the metal bars of their enclosures.

On arrival, our investigator found a serval and a wolfdog showing clear symptoms of zoochosis - a mental illness caused by the extreme stress and boredom of being held in captivity. Both animals were found pacing up and down within their small enclosures, a depressing example of stereotypical behaviour.

Cosmo, one of the zoo's two wolfdogs (a wolf and german shepherd cross), was filmed repetitively circling the edge of his cage, driven mad by being denied the chance to fulfil some of his most basic natural instincts.

Marc Bekoff, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado (Boulder USA) said:

Pacing continuously back and forth or in circles is indicative of stereotypical behaviour - that is to say, repetitive, functionless behaviour caused by the frustration of living in a highly unnatural and impoverished environment. The psychological torture of these animals at Borth Wild Animal Kingdom is plain to see.

In the wild, servals have a home range of up to 30km2 yet in the highly unnatural environment at Borth, this beautiful animal was confined to only around 0.0003km2. This means that they were confined to just 0.0001% of what their natural range could have been. Following the recent court case, Borth were ordered to rehome their serval, but the Tweedys are hopeful that they will someday be allowed to keep big cats again - this must not be allowed to happen!

Freedom for Animals' Director, Sam Threadgill, was shocked but not surprised at the findings:

How much more evidence of suffering do we have to uncover before Ceredigion Council make the right decision and close down Borth Zoo for good? Our exposé simply documents the latest in a whole catalogue of cruelty within this horror zoo.

Dr Emma Milne BVSc MRCVS commented:

The video footage shows clear stereotypical behaviour, specifically aimless pacing in this instance. These behaviours are known to be a sign of poor welfare and are displacement behaviours as the animals try to cope with frustration and boredom. It’s clear the enclosures are woefully small for these animals and a lack of space and enrichment certainly do not meet the basic welfare needs of these animals.

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