Monday 19 August 2019

Zoo Keeper who was accused of punching seal returns to work 

Claire Hayhurst

A zoo keeper suspended for allegedly punching a seal has been allowed to return to work.

The senior animal keeper was accused of attacking a South American fur seal when handlers tried to weigh it.

Bosses at Bristol Zoo Gardens launched an investigation and suspended the keeper after the allegation was made last month.

A spokeswoman for the zoo said the investigation found no harm had been caused to the seal and animal welfare had not been compromised.

"An allegation of this nature is always taken extremely seriously by Bristol Zoo," she said.

"An immediate course of action was implemented, which included suspension of the employee until a full investigation was carried out.

"Contrary to reports, no fur seal has been harmed and seal welfare has not been compromised.

"Therefore, there is no reason to continue the suspension and the staff member has now returned to work.

"We can confirm that every member of the seal family is healthy, well and behaving normally."  The zoo's head vet examined all the seals at the popular tourist attraction after the accusation and they remained on public show in their enclosure.

Bristol Zoo Gardens is a founder member or the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The spokeswoman added: "We are proud of our high standards of animal welfare, which are overseen by an ethical review panel that includes external experts in bioethics and animal welfare." 

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