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Zookeeper suspended for allegedly punching seal

The fur seal has been examined since and is said to be doing fine.

File photo of a South American fur seal
File photo of a South American fur seal
Image: Ladyofhats via Wikimedia Commons

AN ANIMAL KEEPER at Bristol Zoo has been suspended from work after it was alleged he punched a seal.

The animal, a South American fur seal, has been examined by a vet and appears well, but an investigation is under way.

The incident occurred while the seal was being weighed, a spokesperson for the zoo told AFP, without giving further details.

“A senior animal keeper at Bristol Zoo Gardens has been suspended pending further investigation of an alleged animal welfare incident that has recently come to light,” the zoo said in a statement.

The zoo’s chief vet Michelle Barrows had examined all the seals “and all individuals are behaving normally, engaging happily and playfully with keepers and guests in their enclosure”, the statement said.

The animal remains on full public show. The statement continued:

Bristol Zoo would like to make it very clear that it has a zero tolerance towards such behaviour and takes its commitment to the highest standards of animal welfare and conservation seriously.

South American fur seas are natives of South America and were hunted almost to extinction for their rich, warm fur. They belong to the same family as sea lions.

- © AFP, 2013

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