A former employee of a Swedish zoo alleges that zookeepers cruelly treated animals, even at times beating them to death in order to keep veterinary costs down.
Caroline Dyding, of Norrköping, says she left her job at the Öland Animal Park (Ölands Djur och Nöjespark) last year because of the ongoing mistreatment of animals living at the zoo, reported The Local.
“A goat and a coati were beaten to death with a baseball bat. 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,” Dyding told The Local. “What they did was terrible, and they have got to shoulder the responsibility for it."
She also indicated that animals were not properly fed on weekends, and often are deprived water.
The zoo, which is one of Sweden's largest tourist attractions, denies these allegations and says it takes care of its animals. The veterinarian who treats the animals has supported the zoo's statement about the alleged mistreatment.
"As the park's veterinary surgeon I visit the park at least once a week to see the animals and how they are kept," said veterinarian Karl Johan Nordfelt. "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 criticize in the handling of the animals in the park."
According to media, other previous employees told Sveriges Radio an ape died after experiencing a miscarriage because staff did not immediately call a veterinarian.
County administrators say there have been no complaints. However, the Daily Mail reported that in addition to the annual summer inspection, local officials will be doing an additional check in the winter. Reportedly, the Swedish Zoo Association will conduct an investigation.
This story comes at the same time a TV4 documentary series, "Kalla Fakta" will feature another Swedish Zoo, The Parken Zoo, this evening that reports staff members at that facility had killed animals in order to "make more room" for new ones, according to a separate report published by The Local.
“The Kalla Fakta report is made up of information from previous employees who don’t share our view on the importance of zoos to protect endangered species,” the Parken Zoo said in response to the program. “It’s also made up of an unfortunate interview with false information from our zoo head, Helena Olsson. We welcome investigation of our business."
Earlier this year, Digital Journalreported on the Reston Zoo director, a Northern Virginia-based zoo, charged with animal cruelty in a wallaby death; that animal had reportedly been ill. The woman was later found guilty of animal cruelty.