Following the suspension of 3 keepers at Twycross Zoo last week more than 100 different animals have come forward claiming they were victims of abuse at the hands of staff at the midlands attraction. This brings the number of potential victims to 300 police claim.
The zoo gained popularity in the 1970s after becoming a charitable trust and was frequently visited by families and bored looking children with clipboards on school field trips. Police have followed over 400 lines of enquiry and believe the evidence is overwhelming as Met Police Commander Peter Spindler explains.
“This past week our team has interviewed over 200 animals and workers at the zoo and it is our belief that systematic abuse occurred at the East Midlands attraction over the past 40 years”.
The three men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are accused of abusing animals as young as 7 in dog years. The abuse ranges from rattling bird cages, tapping the glass on the fish tanks and hiding the tea cups from the chimps.
A police investigation in 1982 was abandoned due to lack of evidence and it is only due to the bravery of two alleged victims that the police investigation was reinstated.
The first animals to speak out about their alleged abuse were two elephants Tonzi, aged 28 and Noorjahan, aged 16. Speaking on BBCs Panorama programme last weekend, Tonzi recounted her harrowing ordeal.
“I was in the infirmary nursing a broken trunk and one of the men came in and sat beside me in the bed and offered me a bun. I didn’t know him at the zoo but everyone loved him so I thought he was just being friendly”.
However, Tonzi explains how the zoo keeper’s behaviour changed after the nurse left to attend to a sick pelican. “He put his arm round me and started rubbing my trunk up and down. I was so scared when he slipped his hand under my bandages, I’ll never forget it”.
The revelations at the zoo have deeply shocked the Leicestershire community but some members of the public do not accept the allegations as truth and believe the animals are simply jumping on the bandwagon in order to gain from a potential lawsuit. Mr Harrison, a crow from Hinckley dismissed this immediately.
“These animals did not come forward sooner as they were scared no-one would believe them, that’s the reason why. But I’ve been, done, seen about everything, when I see an elephant lie”