Ricochet News

VIDEO: Animal rights groups demand East London Zoo be renovated or be shut down

By Jesica Slabbert - Jan 24, 2018
VIDEO: Animal rights groups demand East London Zoo be renovated or be shut down

The East London Zoo is under fire from a number of local animal protection groups and activists on social media for alleged cruelty to animals housed at the facility.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) laid charges against the Zoo’s curator, Alison Roux, for animal cruelty and negligence, which are now under investigation by the police.

Still, members of the public are speaking out against the run-down conditions that the animals live in at the zoo – demanding that the zoo be renovated or be shut down.

Back in 2007, a R290 million infrastructure upgrade was announced for the zoo.

One activist from Port Elizabeth, Rio Ashington, said she had been shocked when she visited the East London Zoo last week.

“When you ask locals about the state of the East London zoo, they will tell you that it's sad. They will not recommend visiting, and for good reason,” Ashington posted on Facebook.

“I decided to see for myself just how downhill the zoo had gone since my last visit about 4-5 years ago.(it wasn't great then either) When we arrived the place seemed grey. You could immediately get the sense that it wasn't a place that brought much joy to anyone anymore.(if it even did in the first place) The staff themselves didn't seemed exactly thrilled to be there.

“We went in and started walking around. We were pretty much the only people there besides some workers that were mostly just chilling and chatting amongst themselves. A lot of the cages are empty. You wonder what you're even paying to see in the first place.”

Ashington said that while walking through the zoo, she found it covered in trash – “like not the normal amount or type of trash you'd expect to see in a public place”.

“But then, walking up a completely unmarked path we found the bears. And my heart just sank. I'd never seen a real brown bear before, and I so wish that this wasn't my first experience.

“They had two brown bears in this concrete hole in the ground. With no real vegetation and nothing stimulating to do,” she said.

“The bears themselves looked scruffy and thin. One was missing clumps of hair and seemed awfully skinny.

“I just couldn't understand how these big animals were still legally being kept here against their will.”

Her post on Facebook has since sparked a heated debate about the zoo and whether it should be fixed up or shut down.

There were many, who commented on the post, stating that it has been exaggerated and that the animals are being taken care of properly.

Another comment stated that these animals cannot go back to the wild and that the zoo is the only place they can live.

An online petition has since been created in the hope of getting enough signatures to get the zoo shut down. The petition calls for 25 000 signatures and has a total of more than 17 000 so far.

A Facebook group called Stop Cruelty At The East London Zoo has announced that they will be holding a peaceful protest on Saturday the 27th of January at the zoo in Queenspark.  

“The aim is to create awareness about the status of the zoo and put pressure on the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality to either:

  1. Improve the conditions of the zoo so that it is of immaculate standards in terms of the NSPCA welfare guidelines.
  2. If this cannot be done, to close the zoo down and relocate the animals.

“Myself, (Gabriella Naidoo) and Nicol Spink are in the process of making flyers to advertise our protest. We also will be meeting with the BCMM to find out what strategies are going to be put in place by them,” the group said.