Cayman Turtle Farm report reveals cruelty, disease and appalling conditions16/10/2012 12:28:15 Undercover investigation at tourist hotspot reveals shocking animal cruelty
October 2012. An investigation conducted by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) at popular tourist destination, the Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF), has revealed disturbing evidence of animal cruelty, along with widespread conservation and financial failures. Wildlife Extra first reported on the Cayman Turtle Farm in August when 300 turtles died after a water leak.
WSPA's undercover video footage and photographs from the farm in the British Overseas Territory show thousands of sea turtles being kept in dirty, packed tanks. Swimming in water filled with their own waste, the turtles fight each other for food, bite each other and even resort to cannibalism.
7000 turtles kept in appalling conditions
Despite marketing itself as a conservation focused tourist attraction, the Cayman Turtle Farm is the world's last remaining facility that commercially raises sea turtles for slaughter and consumption.‘Neglect and cruelty'
WSPA Wildlife Campaign Leader Dr. Neil D'Cruze said: "It's truly horrific to see this type of neglect and cruelty taking place at a tourist attraction. Life on the Cayman Turtle Farm is a world away from how sea turtles live in the wild. These naturally long ranging, wild animals are solitary creatures that can't endure the cramped and filthy conditions at the farm. There's simply no humane way to commercially farm sea turtles for food."
Stress from overcrowding turns these gentle animals into cannibals and WSPA staff saw turtles with fins entirely chewed away. In-breeding causes turtles to be born with massive deformities, such as no eyes; these young animals have no chance at life at all.
Over 200,000 visitors, including unsuspecting British tourists, pass through the Cayman Turtle Farm's doors each year, and are encouraged to pick up, touch and swim with the endangered sea turtles.WSPA's investigation uncovered traces of Salmonella, E. Coli and Vibrio vulnificus* in the turtle touch tank waters - meaning that visitors who handle the turtles are at risk of getting these diseases and possibly spreading them to fellow passengers aboard their cruise ships. These tourists are at risk of contracting diseases ranging from gastroenteritis to pneumonia and cholera.
The farm has also received widespread criticism from conservationists and animal welfare groups who claim that raising turtles to release into the wild does not address the real problems of turtle decline. In fact, conservation experts say the farm runs the risk of introducing infectious diseases into the wild by releasing these turtles.
714 turtles died in 2011
To make matters worse, the Cayman Turtle Farm is making an average loss of well over 9 million Cayman Dollars (approximately £6,773,000) a year over the past five years.Transformation to conservation centre proposed
WSPA presented its findings to the Cayman Turtle Farm's owners, proposing a plan for the farm to transition its business to a sea turtles rehabilitation and research center. The charity doesn't think the facility needs to close, but does want to see public handling of turtles immediately ended and commercial farming of the endangered animals phased out, but so far the Cayman Turtle Farm has refused.
WSPA now feels its only option is to publicly ask the Cayman Turtle Farm to permanently end sea turtle farming and encourages people to join them at www.stopseaturtlefarm.org
WSPA's Dr D'Cruze added: "WSPA is calling on the Cayman Turtle farm to stop this shocking cruelty, to stop putting unsuspecting tourists at risk, and to stop wasting Caymanian citizens' tax money. WSPA wants to work with the farm to turn the facility into a place that Caymanians can be proud of. Science and society moves on and WSPA would like to help CTF make a positive change, for the turtles, for tourism and for the island."