Like many wildlife artists, I sometimes visit animal collections such as zoos, safari parks and deer parks. They offer great opportunities to sketch from life and are ideal when researching a new subject.
In Britain we believe ourselves to be a nation of animal lovers, so I was horrified to learn that a British safari park had been investigated for contravening the law on the disposal of animal carcasses. They were accused of leaving dead animals out for up to ten days.
You can read the report here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-12151013 Various other publications are running the story, some with sensationalist headlines and lurid details, encouraging readers to vent their disapproval of wildlife collections.
Certainly animals either die naturally or it may be deemed necessary to cull them, and certainly none of us want to see animals being mistreated, either in life or death. It may seem inappropriate to cull them, but neither is it desirable to keep them in overcrowded conditions which could lead to fighting, injury or disease. The ideal solution is obviously to rehome them.
I don’t believe that this particular case is representative of every animal collection but I am concerned that all collections will be damaged by this publicity.
At best wildlife collections do a great deal of good work in conservation and education. Some species survive only in captivity and would be extinct without wildlife collections.
Negative publicity of one venue must not overshadow the positive elements of many. Horrible though this case may be, we must not lose sight of the bigger picture.