I will never look at zoo animals the same again.
Former employees of a zoo in Sweden are telling horrific stories of the living conditions of the animals at Ölands Animal and Amusement Park in Sweden earlier this week, but now it seems the atrocious treatment extend to the staff as well.
Employees at the popular tourist attraction were forced to work under ‘slave like’ conditions and were fed goats, hens and even a pig that had been put down at the park.
One worker, identified as Anna, said: ‘Sometimes we would give the animals a small injection afterwards. If there was an inspection no one would notice that they had been put down the wrong way. They often kill goats with a simple knife to the throat.’
Guest workers from Poland and Bulgaria work in the zoo over the summer and live in cramped conditions close to the park, located on the popular tourist island in the Baltic sea.
Another caregiver told local newspapers, ‘People say the animals are treated badly, but if they only knew what the situation is like for the employees. The guest staff work under slave-like conditions, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with no entitlement to sick leave or days off. Those who complain have to take the return bus back home.’
On Wednesday Pia Westen, 19, revealed that the park had refused to let carers bottle feed a litter of lion cubs ignored by their mother.
Two of them starved to death before carers were allowed to feed the other two.
Staff were ordered to hide the suffering lion cubs behind tarpaulin sheets, with Westen saying: ‘[Supervisors] didn’t want visitors seeing them lying there, dying. The animal caretakers really wanted to save them but they weren’t allowed until two of them had starved to death.’
Caroline Ryding worked at the park for two months in 2011 and claims she quit her job after witnessing ‘permanent maltreatment of the animals’.
She said: ‘A coati (a Brazilian aardvark…pictured below) was beaten to death with a baseball bat or a crow bar. And we were told afterwards not to tell the zoo vet.’
‘They had no room for them and couldn’t afford a vet. The owners told us not to say anything because what they did was illegal.’
Last year the company made a £1.2m profit and the park’s director Barbro Hägg has been given an estimated £2.4m in salary and shares in the past five years.
Zoo spokesman Hans Uhrus claimed the care was of high standard and that the zoo was regularly checked by vets and the County Administration Board.
He said: ‘We always take great care in dealing with our animals. We have regular controls of our business under the animal protection act through inspections. The board has had no complaints against the park’.
(This should be a note to the local government to investigate the board of inspections.)
This claim was backed up by the park’s veterinarian Karl Johan Nordfelt.
He said: ‘As the park’s veterinary surgeon I visit the park at least once a week to see the animals and how they are kept.
‘The animals’ well-being is checked every day by the staff on site and I control how they are kept during my regular visits.
‘I have nothing to comment on regarding the care of the animals in the park.’
The animal park, on the Baltic island of Öland’, off Sweden’s east coast, is estimated to be home to over 650 animals of over 100 different species.
This is tremendously sad.