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Sunday, 12 December, 1999, 22:07 GMT
Zoo admits using illegal animal prods

Elephant Using electric cattle prods on elephants is against EU guidelines


A leading British zoo has admitted using electric cattle prods to help control its elephants in breach of draft European guidelines.

Blackpool Zoo has four Asian elephants and allows its keepers to carry electric rods, known as hotshots, when handling them.

The Captive Animals Preservation Society pressure group, which exposed their use by keepers, said it was appalled by the treatment of the animals.



The piece of equipment is seen as an important safety tool
Iain Valentine, Blackpool Zoo


Diane Westwood, a spokeswoman for CAPS, said the society was concerned with the "circus" type performance the elephants give to the public.

Zoo manager Iain Valentine said the prods were an integral part of the elephant management programme but conceded that within the draft European rules which govern elephant management, their use is not permitted.

"The piece of equipment is seen as an important safety tool when keepers are working in close proximity to an elephant and especially when elephants are being moved from their enclosures to fields for grazing," Mr Valentine said.

Animal welfare

He admitted that in "untrained-hands" the use of hotshots could be abused, as could other safety equipment such as elephant hooks.

He said he thought the European guidelines would be amended as more collections adopted the same methods as used at Blackpool.

"The most important aspects of elephant management therefore are staff safety and animal welfare," he said.

"I, along with fellow zoo curators and directors, but more importantly elephant keepers, believe that the hotshot is an essential, modern piece of equipment which is used every day in the agricultural industry and is, when in trained hands, an additional safety measure."

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See also:
22 Nov 99 |  Africa
Surge in Zimbabwe elephant poaching
10 Feb 99 |  Sci/Tech
Ivory ban lifted
18 Mar 99 |  Sci/Tech
Shoot an elephant, save a species

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