PARENT’S ANGER AT ZOO MEERKATS
AMUM was left “horrified” after she and her children witnessed meerkats attacking and ‘eating’ a squirrel that fell into their enclosure at Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Mother-of-two Hollye Kirkcaldy was visiting the zoo with her children on Monday when the incident happened.
A squirrel fell from the trees above into the meerkat enclosure at the attraction in Clifton.
Parents and children then watched on as the meerkats attacked and attempted to eat the grey squirrel.
Members of the public alerted nearby zoo groundskeepers, but as they were not zookeepers they did not have access to the pen and could only stand by and watch.
They radioed the zookeepers and the squirrel was rescued from the jaws of the meerkats but died later.
Alongside a picture of the staff looking on, Mrs Kirkcaldy tweeted: “Keepers lined up to watch a squirrel get attacked and eaten by the meerkats instead of doing something to help when alerted by public.
“Children forced to watch squirrel die slowly in pain. Is that policy?!”
A spokesperson for the zoo denied that anyone was ‘forced’ to watch and suggested visitors could have moved on when the meerkats acted on their natural instincts.
A spokesperson for Bristol Zoo Gardens said: “Keepers were quickly alerted and soon removed the squirrel and took it to our vets, but it sadly died.”
Much of the comment on social media yesterday was sympathetic with the zoo.
One wrote: “I’m sure the meerkats would have been horrified to see a child eating a ham sandwich in front of them too.
“One of the primary purposes of a zoo is to allow people to learn and interact with animals they would never usually get the chance to see in an environment that allows the animal to express it’s natural instincts and behaviors as much as possible.
“Meerkats are carnivorous and have the same instinct to hunt as any other carnivore.
“Now, it is possible that witnessing unexpected natural predation might be traumatic for younger children but once you have paid your entry fee to the zoo you are free to roam the gardens as you wish. Use your judgment as a parent. If it would disturb your children, then go to another exhibit and come back later.
“If your children are old enough to understand, then stay. Your choice. You are certainly not ‘forced’ to observe anything at the zoo.’’
A mum complained after meerkats attacked a squirrel that fell in their enclosure at Bristol Zoo