Carcass photos force Knowsley Safari Park changes

Animal carcasses at Knowsley Safari Park
Image caption Ms Boyd took a number of photographs that were passed to the council and an animal charity

A Merseyside safari park was told to change the way it dealt with dead animals after an ex-employee released images of carcasses left in the open.

Knowsley Safari Park photographer Penny Boyd complained to the local council over what she believed was unnecessary killing of animals and their disposal.

An investigation by Knowsley Council found a breach of animal by-products regulations, which the park addressed.

In a statement, it said "robust new procedures" were now in place.

Ms Boyd left the park in September after five years providing images for its guide book and other publicity materials.

She took photographs of dead animals including deer, bison and a baboon left in the open in an area inaccessible by the public and sent them to the local authority and Manchester-based charity, the Captive Animals' Protection Society (Caps).

Police inquiries

"The council and its partners have thoroughly investigated these complaints and, where any breaches were identified, appropriate action has been taken," said a council spokesperson.

An environmental protection team inspected the site after the complaints were made and found one breach of the government animal by-products regulations, concerning a dead bison left out in the open.

Managers, who said they were unaware of the regulation, addressed the breach by constructing a building to store dead animals.

The council team also cited a possible breach of regulations on the use of firearms by staff, but an investigation by Merseyside Police found no offence had been committed.

"However procedural recommendations were made in respect of issuing weapons to keepers," said a police spokesperson.

"This has since been implemented and audited by Merseyside Police."

Bodies 'moved'

Liz Tyson, Caps director, paid tribute to the former employee for speaking out and said the photographs highlighted what she described as the "routine killing of animals surplus to requirements".

"As we've seen here, corpses are sometimes left lying around for many days, creating an environmental hazard and contravening the law on proper disposal of carcasses," she added.

In a statement, park general manager David Ross said the council had thoroughly investigated a number of allegations with their full support and action had been taken on the two "operation matters" identified.

"In terms of the images supplied by our former employee - taken in a private staff compound well away from areas open to the public - we believe that some carcasses have been moved around and displayed for maximum photographic impact," he said.

Mr Ross said all the animals in the photographs were either stillborn, had been injured and put down or had died from natural causes or fighting.

"Of course, space is limited even in a park of this size and on occasion we may find ourselves with too many animals of a particular species," he added.

"Our policy, whenever possible, is to move these surplus animals to other collections, and our keepers routinely inspect these new locations to check they are suitable before animals are moved.

"We are delighted that since April last year 190 animals of various species have been successfully rehomed in this way."

The 550-acre attraction, which is about eight miles (13km) from Liverpool city centre, was opened to the public in July 1971.

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