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Twycross Zoo praised for swift action after three staff accused of abusing elephants


Bosses at Twycross Zoo have been praised for their quick action after allegations emerged staff had been abusing elephants.

Three workers at the Leicestershire zoo have been sacked and arrested after allegedly causing unnecessary suffering to two animals.

The men were dismissed after managers reviewed video recordings of a research project being carried out into the animals at the zoo, near Hinckley.

They then notified the police of the recordings and the men were arrested.

Yesterday, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Biaza) – a conservation, education and wildlife charity representing more than 100 member organisations, including all zoos and aquariums – issued a statement of support for Twycross.

A spokeswoman for the organisation said: "Biaza takes every suggestion of compromised welfare very seriously.

"In this instance, it fully supports Twycross Zoo for acting rapidly and comprehensively as soon as the issue came to light.

"Biaza expects and promotes the highest standards of animal husbandry and welfare and has produced stringent animal management guidelines for its members to implement."

The Sun newspaper has reported the men were seen on film beating at least one of the elephants with canes, but the zoo refused to confirm any details of the alleged offences.

A police spokeswoman said the alleged offences, which centre on the care of the female elephants called Noorjahan and Tonzi, happened last month. She said one man was arrested on October 3, one on October 4 and another on October 16.

A spokeswoman for Twycross Zoo said: "The zoo was gathering information relating to the elephants as part of an animal behaviour research project.

"During a review of these video logs the inappropriate behaviour came to light and triggered an investigation."

A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman confirmed their involvement in the matter.

She said: "Three people have been arrested in connection with the incident and have been released on police bail pending further inquiries."

Tonzi is 28 years old and became a grandmother this year when her daughter Tara had a baby.

Noorjahan is 16 years old.

The zoo, which has an 80-acre site, confirmed that it had sacked the three members of staff following the alleged incident and said the animals had not been permanently harmed.

A spokeswoman said: "Three members of Twycross Zoo staff have been dismissed. This action follows an internal investigation and relates to an animal welfare issue.

"Twycross Zoo acted rapidly and comprehensively as soon as the issue came to light.

"The zoo immediately instigated an extensive investigation in line with its internal policies and legal welfare requirements.

"The small group of animals this incident relates to suffered no lasting injury, are behaving normally and are now doing extremely well. The animals have been and continue to be on full public show.

"The incident was reported immediately to the police who are investigating.

"In addition, leading zoo animal welfare organisations were informed."

Twycross Zoo praised for swift action after three staff accused of abusing elephants

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