Over the past five summers, about 6,000 people have flocked to the London Zoo each Friday night to hang out with tigers, penguins, lions, and other wildlife. This season drunken visitors have been especially rambunctious, raising concerns over the welfare of the animals.
The Guardian reports more than a few disturbing incidents at this year’s Zoo Lates. A staff member had to kick out a man who was pouring beer over a tiger on a recent evening. Another man tried to enter a penguin pool, prompting zookeepers to step in. A drunken woman also allegedly attempted to go inside a lion pen.
“During the day, welfare and conservation is of the utmost priority,” an unnamed tipper told The Guardian. “In the evening, that seems to go out the window, and the animals become a commodity. That’s not what zoos are about, but there’s a lot of money in it.”
The parties generate more than $1 million every year to fund the zoo’s upkeep and conservation efforts.
The zoo’s website markets the events, which run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., as “London’s wildest night out,” featuring “flamboyant stilt-walkers, hilarious comedy, fantastic food from around the world, and the chance to see incredible wildlife after hours.” A ticket costs about $35, and guests can drink alcohol in most parts of the zoo.
Attendee Samantha McConnell told The Telegraph that she once saw a woman hit a bird by accident as she drunkenly stumbled in an aviary.
“I saw animals being taunted, and saw people banging on the glass,” she said. “One guy was rubbing himself on the glass at the snake enclosure. In the butterfly exhibit, people were so careless, crushing butterflies on the ground. I don’t think partying, alcohol and animals are a good combination.”
A zoo spokeswoman told The Guardian that the events are safe and pointed out that only three people have been thrown out of the facility since 2013. “We would ban alcohol if we thought it was necessary, but at the moment we see no need to do so,” she said.
Related stories on TakePart:
Original article from TakePart