In recent years, zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks have come under scrutiny about their animal treatment practices. SeaWorld likely comes to mind because of backlash following a documentary that was released a few years ago, called Blackfish. We’ve also recently mentioned states that are flat out banning circuses with wild animals. However, the latest to come under fire is the Austin Zoo, which is facing questions about animal mistreatment.

The story comes from the Austin American-Statesman, which recently published an exhaustive report based on interviews with 24 current and former Austin Zoo staff members. According to the Austin American-Statesman:

Various zookeepers for years had been troubled by decisions made by Austin Zoo leadership that they say caused animals to languish in pain and put their human handlers at risk. They also say management discouraged second opinions or constructive criticism. Off and on, they had discussed whether they could do anything about it.

On April 3, five of them met at a Chuy’s restaurant to craft a letter to the zoo’s board of directors, listing problems they saw and demanding a change in leadership.

Within months, the effort would backfire. Multiple employees would be fired. The board would back zoo Director Patti Clark. And the letter would highlight disputes over what the end of a captive animal’s life should look like.

Twenty-four current and former Austin Zoo staff members, 17 of them zookeepers, spoke to the Statesman about what they described as unorthodox animal care techniques, an unwillingness to euthanize suffering animals and acts of retaliation against keepers who raised concerns at the nonprofit facility. Most requested that they not be identified for fear of retaliation in their current jobs or poor references for future ones. The Statesman also obtained numerous emails and other documents describing problems at the zoo.

Read the full story on the Austin American-Statesman

Meanwhile, read more of the latest conservation news below, and subscribe to receive the top news delivered straight to your inbox.

Recommended Reading

  • Why Disney World Is Betting On Clean Energy (Forbes)
  • Brazil’s deadly dam disaster may have been preventable (National Geographic)
  • A Grand Plan To Clean The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (The New Yorker)
  • Gone in a generation: Montana’s forests have swung from pulling carbon dioxide out of the air to putting it back again (The Washington Post)