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Zoo Covered Up Death Of Crocodile

Daily Mail newspaper - May 2017

This is the story in the Daily Mail newspaper that resulted from information supplied by our whistleblower.

The source retained their anonymity and the artcile appeared on page three.


How zoo keepers covered up the death of Colin the crocodile after leaving him to die in the cold: Workers are snapped carrying the beast out in a crate before telling visitors he had 'gone to a good home'

  • Beaver Water World in Tatsfield, Surrey, says croc was found dead on April 9
  • Witness alleges that Colin was left outside in late March in 3C temperatures 
  • Zoo told visitors that Colin had been rehomed so as 'not to disappoint' them  

An animal rescue charity has admitted covering up the death of one of the star attractions at its zoo.

Colin the spectacled caiman allegedly died after keepers left him in an outside enclosure during cold weather.

But for nearly a month, a notice on his enclosure told visitors the 7ft reptile had been rehomed.

Colin the spectacled caiman (pictured) allegedly died after keepers left him in an outside enclosure during cold weather

Colin the spectacled caiman (pictured) allegedly died after keepers left him in an outside enclosure during cold weather

Deception: The notice that was pinned on Colin’s enclosure

Deception: The notice that was pinned on Colin’s enclosure

Colin was at least 36 years old and was from a species from Central and South America closely related to alligators and crocodiles. The zoo, Beaver Water World in Tatsfield, Surrey, says he was found dead on April 9.

A witness, who does not wish to be named, alleges that Colin was left outside in late March as overnight temperatures dropped to 3C (37F). He claims staff only realised the caiman was dead when he had not moved for more than a week.

The zoo, which is facing eviction and is trying to raise £500,000 to find a new home, put a sign on Colin's enclosure saying that 'due to our present uncertain circumstances' the owners had 'felt it wiser to take advantage of an offer of a good home for Colin the caiman. 

We shall all miss him.' Last night, the charity admitted it had lied to the public as it had not wanted to disappoint visitors. However, the Beaver Water World website still said: 'Another centre approached us and we didn't want to miss the opportunity. With a heavy heart we agreed to let him live out the remainder of his life with a larger collection.'

The witness said it had been common knowledge among staff that Colin was dead. 'He was put in the outside enclosure towards the end of March and hadn't moved for at least a week.

 

Other staff at the charity move in to cover the windows of Colin’s enclosure

A large wooden box thought to contain the caiman is carried out 

A large wooden box thought to contain the caiman is carried out 

The wooden crate can later be seen in the back of a pick-up truck, which is driven off

The wooden crate can later be seen in the back of a pick-up truck, which is driven off

'Colin was the zoo's star attraction. All the schoolchildren who visited loved him. When staff drained the pond Colin was there at the bottom. The management waited until the zoo had closed then put his body into a wooden crate and drove him away. He's been killed due to incompetence and negligence – he's an exotic creature and should never have been put out in the cold waters.'

CCTV footage taken on April 9 from an adjoining property appears to show staff prodding a motionless Colin with a broom.

They then carry a wooden box to a truck. Separate video footage is said to show Colin's body being wrapped in a blue plastic sheet.

The incident is being investigated by environmental health officers at Tandridge District Council, who visited on Tuesday with officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The council said: 'Until we have concluded our investigation we are unable to release more details.'

Last night, after being approached by the Mail, the zoo admitted that Colin had died and that his body had been put in a freezer. Founder and managing director Stella Quayle said: 'Colin the caiman passed away between April 8 and 9, and being the weekend no veterinary practices were available… we therefore placed Colin in our empty chest freezer.'

Defra guidelines say post-mortem examinations must be done when an animal dies at a zoo.

However, Beaver Water World said it felt a post-mortem was 'unlikely to throw any light on the cause of death', adding that Colin had looked 'pretty healthy'.

Mrs Quayle said the signs saying he had been rehomed were put up as 'it is sometimes better to sugar the pill for the general public'.

The zoo has more than 400 animals including boa constrictors, lizards, meerkats and birds. It is trying to raise £500,000 to find new premises after being served with a notice to quit as the landlord has other plans for the site. So far its GoFundMe page has received donations of just £5,700.