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Wellington Zoo cheetah day excursions condemned

MEDIA RELEASE

Wellington Zoo cheetah day excursions condemned by international zoo experts

Two leading zoos in Europe are highly critical of Wellington Zoo's rent-a-cheetah programme. In a recent article published in the Dutch newspaper Friesch Dagblad zoo spokespeople claim the programme shows little respect for the animals and is not educational.

For $2,500, Wellington Zoo will take its two juvenile cheetahs to parties, shop openings and other events. The Zoo cites education and conservation as the main benefits of the visits.

National animal advocacy group SAFE welcomes the qualified support from the international zoo community. SAFE has condemned the rent-a-cheetah programme as irresponsible claiming that it puts both people and the animals at risk. The organisation considers the use of cheetahs as objects of entertainment to be deplorable.

"SAFE believes that Wellington Zoo is acting unethically. We are pleased that we are receiving support from within the international zoo community", says SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek.

Wijbren Landman, Emmen Zoo, Holland "We are completely opposed. We would never do something like that. Actions like this demand that the animals are very tame and we strive to keep them as wild as possible. We don't allow keepers between the animals, let alone strangers. It's not educational either".

Bas Lukkenaar, Burgers Zoo, Holland "Our zoo strives to keep the animals in an as natural as possible environment. This initiative from Wellington Zoo is not acceptable by our standards. The animals are used in a manner that does not benefit their welfare. Cheetahs are wild animals. That's why they are and will remain potentially dangerous for people if they get stressed or end up in unnatural situations."

ENDS

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