Merlin Entertainments is Europe’s Number 1, and the world’s second largest visitor attraction operator with 94 attractions in 21 countries around the world across four continents.
The world’s premier operator of aquaria through its SEA LIFE brand, with more than 30 sites primarily in Europe/USA; Merlin also operates a world standard zoo in the UK; and has the care of marine mammals at two other sites, in Italy and Germany.
Merlin has an excellent record and reputation for the ethical and responsible care, preservation and conservation of animals and the marine environment, a reputation acknowledged by expert organisations around the world. The company is also justifiably proud of the campaigns and breeding programmes of which it is a part; and which have received significant global recognition and delivered real conservation success. It has also invested in developing detailed and inspiring educational programmes on all its sites for both schools and individual visitors; and to working with young people through many of its SOS (Save Our Seas) campaigns.
The company is very aware of its responsibilities towards the welfare of the animals in its care, and employs the highest possible standards of animal husbandry on every site. Its’ large team of marine and animal specialists also work regularly in partnership with a number of independent expert organisations including to develop very clear policies and procedures relating to individual animal selection, care and environment; policies which are regularly reviewed in line with new information and thinking.
SEA LIFE has an excellent record and reputation for the ethical and responsible care, preservation and conservation of the marine environment.
In many of our aquariums we rescue, rehabilitate and release marine animals in distress; while our SOS (Save Our Seas) programmes have achieved significant global recognition and delivered real conservation success. Most recently in Scotland for example we have successfully lobbied to ban the renewal of commercial shark fishing licenses; and two sea lochs have been designated marine protected areas because we have proven that they are valuable breeding and nursery grounds for various species of sharks and rays.
SEA LIFE also employs an independent expert on animal welfare and veterinary matters who is also a zoo inspector and retained by DEFRA to consult on zoo licensing and zoo inspector training.
This policy is further underlined by our close working relationship with organisations such as WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
Merlin has clear policies relating to the captivity, care and treatment of marine mammals. Indeed in the case of dolphins and other cetaceans we have gone on record with our concern as to their suitability as display animals, and have never condoned the capture of these creatures from the wild for entertainment purposes, or indeed at all.
In those cases where we occasionally acquire businesses which historically have included marine shows or exhibits, we work with experts to take immediate action, and to develop medium term plans which we believe are in the best interest of the welfare of the animals involved. These have included in some cases the cessation or complete change of content of entertainment ‘shows’. Any current presentations are simply designed to highlight the creatures’natural behaviour and instincts, and are purely educational, inspiring empathy in our visitors, and highlighting their plight in the wild. We are never complacent and this policy is constantly monitored.
More recently Merlin Entertainments has also commissioned WDCS to undertake a feasibility study to evaluate all possible future scenarios specifically for our dolphins.
Chessington World of Adventures and Zoo
Chessington World of Adventures and Zoo is a member of both EAZA, European Association of Zoos and Aquaria BIAZA, British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria, both of which have stringent codes of practice and ethics covering animal management, conservation, education research and operations. The Park also employs an independent expert on animal welfare and veterinary matters who is also a zoo inspector and retained by DEFRA to consult on zoo licensing and zoo inspector training.
CWoA also works hard to raise awareness of conservation issues through student education programmes and high profile campaigns. The Park is involved with many national and international breeding programmes to secure the long term future of rare and endangered species. This is to maintain genetically healthy and demographically balanced populations of animals, and has some of the world’s most successful breeding families of both the critically endangered Sumatran tigers and Western Lowland gorillas. In 2008 Chessington Zoo collected the BIAZA Award for Significant Contribution to Conservation Breeding for its successful tiger-breeding programme.