Belfast Zoo must be shut, says Northern Ireland Says No To Animal Cruelty
A prominent animal advocacy organisation has called for Belfast Zoo to be closed down.
Northern Ireland Says No To Animal Cruelty spoke out after it emerged that the zoo's accreditation had been delayed amid concerns following an inspection.
The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) questioned the leadership of the attraction and claimed that some animals were kept in unacceptable conditions.
EAZA wrote to Belfast City Council this month informing it that the decision to accredit the zoo had been delayed.
In response, a spokeswoman for the council said that the zoo was undergoing an "improvement process".
However Northern Ireland Says No To Animal Cruelty insisted it should be closed.
"Belfast Zoo is failing to meet some basic welfare requirements," a spokesman said.
"Concerns about not enough room, light, bad water conditions and more paints a bleak picture for the victims of the zoo. We feel their is an underlying tone of secrecy. What the public don't know won't hurt them, but now we know and we are furious.
"The time of zoos is over and unless they can offer genuine conservation (i.e. breed to release, not breed for trade) then they really serve no purpose.
"Many species are endangered and should be conserved, but it should be achieved in an environment as close to a natural life as possible, and the reality is Cave Hill does not offer that and cannot offer that regardless of how much money is spent."
Councillors are currently debating the future of the zoo, but the committee responsible has ruled out closing the facility.
At a meeting on October 12, members were presented with options including maintaining the status quo, transforming the zoo in-house or transferring ownership to a council-owned company, a community asset transfer, a public-private partnership or a hybrid solution.
A council spokeswoman said: "The issues in the letter are raised by EAZA in advance of final accreditation and are to enable the zoo to respond to the issues within an agreed timescale, which we are doing.
"The work under way at Belfast Zoo is to ensure the sustainability and continued improvement of the facility. Regarding the specific issues, the zoo manager is being recruited and other issues are being addressed."