Edinburgh Zoo Under Fire From Animal Rights Charity

PETA Calls for Cancelation of Controversial ‘Zoo Nights’ Parties at Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh – In light of reports that Edinburgh Zoo plans to bring back their “Zoo Nights” events – in which partygoers can create a loud, stressful environment for the animals on display – PETA fired off an urgent letter this morning calling on the zoo to cancel the traumatising events.

As the group note in a letter to Chris West, the chief executive of Edinburgh Zoo, at similar recent events at the London Zoo, one person reportedly tried to pour beer on a tiger, another allegedly attempted to undress and enter the enclosure that held penguins and another fell and “accidentally” punched a bird, among other incidents. According to Edinburgh Zoo’s website, visitors will be permitted to consume alcohol in a “relaxed atmosphere” and enjoy other after-hours entertainment to “kick start” their Friday nights. In addition to putting animals at risk, allowing visitors in the zoo outside normal business hours interrupts the animals’ usual sleep schedule – especially when they behave in a manner that causes the animals distress.

“Putting animals at risk for the sake of making a few pounds should make the public question Edinburgh Zoo’s priorities”, says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi. “PETA are calling on Edinburgh Zoo to do what’s best for the animals – and that means cancelling the stressful ‘Zoo Nights’ events.”

Other dangerous occurrences reported at similar zoo events include one incident in which a man got “touchy-feely” with some baby penguins and another in which a man asked a staff member, “Which penguin can I fight?”

PETA’s letter to Edinburgh Zoo is available below. For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.

Chris West

Chief Executive

Edinburgh Zoo

12 March 2015

Dear Professor West,

I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) UK – one of the biggest animal-protection charities in the country – as well as our hundreds of thousands of UK supporters to ask that you abandon your plans to host “Zoo Nights” at Edinburgh Zoo. During similar evening events held at London Zoo recently, members of the public were apparently able to disturb the animals and were reported to have crushed butterflies on the ground. It was reported that a person tried to pour beer on a tiger and that another person undressed before attempting to enter the penguin enclosure.

Scientific research shows that during normal opening hours, the presence of zoo visitors can have a detrimental impact on the animals’ welfare. “Zoo Nights”, which take place outside normal opening hours, while animals would normally be resting, are likely to have an even greater negative impact on animal welfare, particularly if the visitors behave in a manner that stresses the animals.

Zoos are responsible for the safety of the animals in their care, and they must make that a priority. Allowing these late-night events – in which visitors will be permitted to consume alcohol in a “relaxed atmosphere” and enjoy other after-hours entertainment to “kick start” their Friday nights – does not demonstrate adequate consideration for animal welfare, as it puts profits before the animals’ well-being.

We urge Edinburgh Zoo to cancel “Zoo Nights”. We’re keen to hear back from you on this important issue. I can be contacted at [email protected] or on 0207 837 6327, extension 227.

Kind regards,

Kirsty Henderson

Campaign Coordinator