Overcrowding, neglect and disease-filled tank water poses risks to endangered animals and tourists alike
TORONTO, Oct. 15, 2012 /CNW/ - A year-long undercover investigation conducted by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) at the Cayman Turtle Farm, a popular tourist destination and the world's last remaining facility that raises sea turtles for slaughter, has revealed disturbing animal cruelty and potential human health risks.
Video footage and photographs from the farm show thousands of endangered sea turtles being kept in dirty, crowded touch tanks. Swimming in water filled with their own waste, the turtles fight for food, bite each other and even resort to cannibalism. Many suffer from disease and birth defects, such as injured fins or missing eyes.
"Life on the Cayman Turtle Farm is a far contrast from how sea turtles live in the wild," said Elizabeth Hogan, Oceans and Wildlife Campaigns Manager at WSPA. "It's truly horrific to see this type of neglect and cruelty taking place at a tourist attraction. Not to mention the fact that these foul conditions aren't only affecting the resident turtles - humans could be at risk, as well."
The farm encourages visitors to touch and pick up the sea turtles. However, WSPA tested the touch tank water and found traces of Salmonella, E. Coli and Vibrio vulnificus - meaning that visitors who touch the turtles are at risk for contracting these diseases and then possibly spreading them to fellow passengers back on board their cruise ships. According to a 2012 poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, 69% of cruise ship passengers who visited the Cayman Turtle Farm since 2009 were unaware of these health risks, and the majority would not have visited the attraction had they known.
"The bottom line is that the farm is currently posing great threats to turtle welfare and human health," added Hogan. "We want to help the farm change for the better, but its unwillingness to meet us halfway is posing a great challenge."
On July 3, WSPA met with the Cayman Turtle Farm owners to discuss its investigation findings and propose a plan for the farm to transition its business to a sea turtles rehabilitation and research centre. To date, the farm is not willing to change.
To learn more about WSPA's campaign to end sea turtle cruelty at the farm, please visit www.StopSeaTurtleFarm.org
About the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals) is the world's leading animal welfare charity. We have been protecting animals around the world for over 30 years. We passionately believe that animal welfare matters.
At WSPA we will always expose and oppose the exploitation and suffering of animals. We believe animal cruelty must end, whether that animal is in the wild, living in the community, caught up in a disaster, or being farmed.
Today, WSPA works in over 50 countries, collaborating with local communities, NGOs and governments that can help us change animals' lives for the better. We also act for animals at a global level, using our United Nations consultative status to give them a voice.
We work responsibly and sustainably, to put animal welfare on the global agenda and show that what's good for animals is good for the world.
Video with caption: "A year-long undercover investigation conducted by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) at the Cayman Turtle Farm, a popular tourist destination, has revealed disturbing animal cruelty and potential human health risks. ". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20121015_C6638_VIDEO_EN_19181.mp4&posterurl=http://photos.newswire.ca/images/20121015_C6638_PHOTO_EN_19181.jpg&clientName=World%20Society%20for%20the%20Protection%20of%20Animals&caption=A%20year%2Dlong%20undercover%20investigation%20conducted%20by%20the%20World%20Society%20for%20the%0D%0AProtection%20of%20Animals%20%28WSPA%29%20at%20the%20Cayman%20Turtle%20Farm%2C%20a%20popular%20tourist%0D%0Adestination%2C%20has%20revealed%20disturbing%20animal%20cruelty%20and%20potential%20human%0D%0Ahealth%20risks%2E%0D%0A%0D%0A&title=WORLD%20SOCIETY%20FOR%20THE%20PROTECTION%20OF%20ANIMALS%20%2D%20Undercover%20Investigation%20at%20Tourist%20Hotspot%20Reveals%20Shocking%20Animal%20Cruelty&headline=Undercover%20Investigation%20at%20Tourist%20Hotspot%20Reveals%20Shocking%20Animal%20Cruelty
Image with caption: "Visitors to the Cayman Turtle Farm have access to several enclosures and are permitted to hold sea turtles. Water sampling revealed the presence of pathogenic bacterium in the 'touch tanks'. Currently the farm does not provide visitors with information regarding this risk. (CNW Group/World Society for the Protection of Animals)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121015_C6638_PHOTO_EN_19173.jpg
Image with caption: "The Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF) is the last facility in the world that breeds turtles for commercial use. WSPA has been urging CTF to make a transition to a more humane alternative. (CNW Group/World Society for the Protection of Animals)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121015_C6638_PHOTO_EN_19174.jpg
Image with caption: " A green turtle in the wild. (CNW Group/World Society for the Protection of Animals)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121015_C6638_PHOTO_EN_19175.jpg
Image with caption: " Overcrowding in the tanks at the Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF) can lead to turtles fighting for food, biting each other and even cannibalism. Here a turtle shows signs of cannibalism. (CNW Group/World Society for the Protection of Animals)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121015_C6638_PHOTO_EN_19176.jpg
Image with caption: "A green turtle at the Cayman Turtle Farm. (CNW Group/World Society for the Protection of Animals)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121015_C6638_PHOTO_EN_19177.jpg
SOURCE: World Society for the Protection of Animals
For further information:
For more information, images and interviews please contact:
Elizabeth Sharpe, Communications Manager, WSPA: Tel: (416) 369-0044 x111; Cell: (647) 268-8122; Email: email@example.com
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