Chessington World of Adventures, a theme park, zoo and sealife center at Chessington, U.K., was recently accused of lying to its customers and remaining mum about a recent fox attack that killed eight of its Humboldt Penguins. According to reports, the attack happened at the end of June when an urban fox infiltrated the penguins’ enclosure. Following the incidence, the zoo management allegedly decided to quietly close off the Penguin Bay and put a sign at the entrance, stating that the unfortunate animals where placed somewhere else as the zoo made alterations to the attraction.
The zoo was accused of covering up the attack by using the sign. It was also reported that theme park employees were warned against talking about the incidence. “The attack happened at the end of June when the night security and zoo staff were not monitoring as they should have been. There is CCTV footage on site at the park. The male penguins can be seen trying to protect the babies from the attack, sadly all bar one of the males were killed as well as all the babies…Not only are these poor animals are now dead, but the customers are being lied to,” a source said in an article on The Telegraph website.
However, a spokesperson for the zoo defended the management’s decision not to inform the public, stating that Chessington was not under any obligation to divulge the details of the animals. The reports also noted that the officer did not specify the preventive measures in place to protect the penguins. This, despite the zoo insisting that the Penguin bay’s enclosure met all specifications stated in licensing standards.
According to the spokesperson, the alterations on the enclosure were being carried out in order to prevent future incidents. The official also noted that investigations are underway to determine how the fox got inside the enclosure. The attraction was opened in 2015 in partnership with Dreamworks in celebration of the release of the animated film Penguins of Madagascar. (Related: Despite massive petition to free the animal, ‘world’s saddest polar bear’ remains imprisoned in Chinese shopping mall, longing for natural habitat.)
Zoo owns up to the penguin massacre
The zoo management eventually owned up to the incident. “It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of eight of our Humboldt penguins, which it is apparent were killed by an urban fox that infiltrated their home at Penguin Bay overnight at the end of June. We are investigating why this happened, as Penguin Bay, only built in 2015, had special measures put in place specifically to deter foxes and therefore we are shocked and saddened at this news. The eight Humboldt penguins, five adults and three infants, were part of a group of 28 here at the resort…Our remaining penguins have been moved to a secure area while we take additional measures to secure Penguin Bay, which we hope to reopen as soon as possible,” Lisa Britton, assistant zoo manager at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, said in an article on The Guardian website.
According to Britton, the health, safety and welfare of the animals are a top priority for the zoo. The official also stressed that Chessington is a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) and the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), both of which maintain strict protocols and ethics in animal conservation, management, operations, and education research.
The recent attack was not the first reported incidence of animal deaths inside the zoo’s parameters. Early this year, a spate of animal killings at Delhi Zoo in India was also blamed on illegal animal capture and negligence by zoo officials.