We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Entrance to Dublin Zoo. Alamy Stock Photo
Dublin Zoo

Report into 'serious welfare breaches' at Dublin Zoo deems majority of allegations to be 'unfounded'

Of 23 allegations, only one claim was ‘considered to be supported as per the stated allegation’.

A REPORT INTO allegations of “ongoing serious welfare breaches” at Dublin Zoo has deemed the majority of the allegations to be “unfounded”.

The report, by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), was commissioned after allegations made by an anonymous whistle-blower were raised in the Seanad in July of last year.

During a Green Party animal welfare motion, Labour Senator Annie Hoey read excerpts from a protected disclosure regarding the zoo.

Hoey read out a statement from a Dublin Zoo whistle-blower who said they had “no option” but to go down that route.

Hoey added that she had “been made aware of a number of breaches” of the five freedoms which animals are internationally recognised to be entitled to.

These include the freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury and disease, the freedom to express normal and natural behaviour and freedom from fear and distress.

Of the 23 allegations, the report found that 17 were considered to be “unfounded with no evidence supplied to support the narrative of the allegation”.

Two others were deemed to have no basis or evidence to even substantiate the allegation”.

For three other allegations,some evidence was found supporting a historical allegation”, but Dublin Zoo was found to have already resolved the case with changes in “process, facility or management”.

However, one claim was ‘considered to be supported as per the stated allegation”.

In a statement issued today, Dublin Zoo said this related to an “issue regarding the development of the new red panda habitat”.

But the statement added that Dublin Zoo did not consider this to be a concern.

The investigation team also recognised this “as being justifiable and consistent with the other percentage of zoos which house red pandas in a similar manner within the European and North America zoo population”.

Dublin Zoo added that it “fully accepts the conditions and recommendations outlined in the investigation report and will implement all recommendations made”.

While recommendations are “not considered mandatory”, conditions are a “mandatory requirement. 

18 recommendations were made in total, including “ethically” reviewing the emergency euthanasia protocol and procedure.

Meanwhile, four conditions were imposed, including the need to ensure that a “clearly visible thermometer is installed in the outdoor pen area of the California sea lion facility”.

California sea lions must also be weighed weekly to ensure they are within an expected range.

Dublin Zoo must also ensure that a medium and long-term management strategy for the two chimpanzee troops is produced and reviewed, at a minimum, annually.

‘Lack of Transparency’

The NPWS report also noted that Dublin Zoo had been accused of “hiding wrongdoing and lacking transparency with regard to their implementation and support of animal welfare”.

However, the investigation team highlighted that Dublin Zoo was “transparent about the cases involved in the allegations and provided the investigation team with complete access to their records”.

The report added: “At no time did the investigation team perceive that Dublin Zoo were attempting to hide wrongdoing.”

The report involved the examination of 480 records and 52 hours of testimony from current staff.

A spokesperson for Dublin Zoo said the report “vindicates and reaffirms that animal welfare is our number one priority and the foundation stone of all that we do”.

“Only the highest standards of animal care are acceptable at Dublin Zoo, and our hard-working and passionate colleagues are testament to this,” they added.

Dublin Zoo also said: “Issues raised by members of staff regarding animal welfare are treated with the utmost sensitivity and seriousness and are thoroughly investigated.

“Any disclosures are investigated immediately and rectified where appropriate. Staff can make animal welfare related disclosures through their team, Dublin Zoo management or anonymously.”

The whistle-blower, as quoted by Senator Hoey, also claimed that they had “exhausted all options”.

However, the report noted that this was not the case.

A spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the good name and reputation of Dublin Zoo and its highly committed team of employees and volunteers has been upheld.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel