Knowsley Safari Park General Manager, David Ross, said: “It is a matter of sadness and regret that these allegations have been made by a member of staff who resigned in September this year.
“The allegations are particularly disappointing because the employee concerned was for many years closely involved in promoting the safari park, along with its animal welfare and conservation activities, even to the extent of appearing on TV and in the national press in this capacity.
“Nevertheless, Knowsley Council – who regularly inspect the park and are responsible for issuing our zoo licence – have thoroughly investigated a number of allegations with our full co-operation. Only two issues have required further action by the park, both relating to operational matters – the storage and disposal of animal carcasses and firearms procedures. Both these have been swiftly addressed and robust new procedures are already in place and being implemented to the satisfaction of the relevant authorities.
“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.
“However, it is important to note that the photos show either stillborn animals, animals that died of natural causes, or as a result of fighting, or animals put down by the vet due to injury. In a park with almost 800 animals, some such deaths are inevitable.
“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. 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.
“In conclusion, I am pleased to be able to say that in the 39 years the park has been
open we have never had such a dedicated and positive team of keepers to look after
“Now that the current rehoming of overpopulated species is almost complete, it will leave us clear to introduce a number of exciting new species to the collection, whilst continuing to maintain – and constantly striving to improve – our very high standards of animal husbandry and welfare.
“We also look forward to working with Knowsley Council in the future, and continuing the proactive and helpful relationship we have had with them in the past.”