Illegal zoo labelled ‘safari park from hell’ after pictures emerge of poorly treated lion in solitary confinement
Albanian authorities are being urged to act after new photos appeared to expose the depressing reality of a zoo labelled the ‘safari park from hell’.
Pictures taken at the allegedly illegal Safari Park Zoo in Fier, Albania, show a ‘severely malnourished’ lion living in cramped conditions with what appears to be an eye injury.
The shocking images have come to light after an unnamed photographer exposed conditions there.
The photographer said: “All the animals are kept in tiny, unhygienic concrete cages with no possibility to retreat from the elements or from the prying eyes of visitors to the zoo.
“The animals suffer from a range of physical and psychological issues caused by the miserable conditions, improper veterinary care and lack of an appropriate diet.
“I’ve been documenting human/animal conflict globally for nearly a decade.
“My current focus is on wildlife tourism.
“It’s thought that over half a million animals are suffering for the industry, however not enough is known about the abuses that are going on – in front of our eyes and behind closed doors.
“The camera is a potent weapon for getting these issues into the public domain.”
The photographer said there are several different animals at the privately-owned Safari Park Zoo, which is attached to a bar and restaurant, including three adult lions thought to have been there since they were cubs.
His images show what appear to be ‘suffering’ lions languishing in desolate, dirty concrete cages surrounded by their own waste and without even the most basic provisions such as fresh water and shade.
The photographer claimed vets who have visited the macabre facility described what they were greeted with as ‘some of the worst animal welfare conditions they have ever seen’.
It is understood they were among around 14 lion cubs born at the zoo. The rest are thought to have died, been sold or simply been given away to friends of the owner.
Other animals include a zebra, several deer, monkeys, a bear and a malnourished wolf can be seen suffering quietly in tiny cages.
Animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has been active in Albania in recent years, primarily working alongside the Albanian Ministry of Environment and other NGOs in the area.
When asked about the latest photos of conditions at the zoo, Ioana Dungler, who heads up the charity’s Wild Animals Department, confirmed FOUR PAWS was aware of the situation and would be keen to work with the Albanian authorities to intervene before it’s too late.
Ioana said: “The situation at the Safari Park Zoo in Fier is clearly absolutely unacceptable for the animals remaining there.
“The conditions do not even come close to being appropriate, particularly for large wild animals like lions and bears which have very specific environmental and dietary needs.
“Signs of the mental and physical impact of being kept in such abject surroundings can be clearly seen on each of the poor animals at the zoo.
“It is undoubtedly very far from most peoples’ understanding of a ‘safari park’ and represents an animal welfare emergency.
“Put simply, if something is not done soon these animals will continue to suffer and most likely die in these unspeakable conditions.”
“It is important to have in mind that while the situation looks incredibly bleak now, there is a possible solution.
“FOUR PAWS has rescued animals from many similar zoos in the past and animals from all over the world that once seemed just as hopeless now thrive in our sanctuaries.
“We hope that with the support of the Albanian Ministry of Environment and Tourism, we can one day achieve the same for the poor animals in Fier.”