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Damian Aspinall: The animal park boss who wants people to stop paying to see animals in captivity

Damian Aspinall believes that the real reason for having millions of animals kept in cages is because the public enjoys seeing them, and that this makes humans a barbaric species.

SEBASTIAN MURPHY-BATES: ‘Damian Aspinall, who chairs the foundation that runs Howletts Wild Animal Park, wants every zoo phased out within 25 years. The conservationist, who runs the site with his wife, Victoria, hopes to see London Zoo shut within the next decade and wishes closure on his own venue in Kent. Mr Aspinall told The Times that zoos exaggerate their conservation benefits and hide the severity of disease on site. He said that the scale of hibridisation is also hidden from the public and pointed out that it renders the preservation efforts worthless. Some zoos even have a breed and cull policy so that children can delight at the sight of baby animals.

He told the paper that he’s a hypocrite for welcoming people to Howletts which was founded by his father, John, who created the Aspinalls casino empire. But he says that he needs money from customers to fund the returning of animals back to the wild. And he has returned dozens to their natural habitats, including black rhinos and Western lowland gorillas to Africa. Mr Aspinall has also returned clouded leopards to their natural homes in Cambodia. He has ambitions to turn his zoo into a rescue centre and says parents should not be taking their children to such places.

‘Parents should not be taking their kids to zoos,’ he said. ‘I know that would hurt me as much as anyone else but that’s my honest answer. There’s no excuse for any zoo today. Because parents take their kids to zoos when they are young by the time those young grow up they are culturised that zoos are fine.’ He says that zoos are educating youngsters that it’s okay to keep animals as prisoners for entertainment and said animals at his site have hybridised.

Only five per cent of the mammals kept at Europe’s zoos are critically endangered, he said, and only the Eastern black rhino, gorilla and orangutan are in viable breeding programmes. Mr Aspinall slammed the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and accused them of running an unnecessary breeding scheme for elephants as there are still 400,000 in the wild. He believes that the real reason they are caged is because the public enjoys seeing them… Mr Aspinall believes that having millions of animals kept in poor cages makes humans a barbaric species’. SOURCE…

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