New information obtained by WSPA and a recent report into the conditions at the Cayman Turtle Farm have confirmed that animal suffering is a major problem at the facility; the most popular tourist attraction in the Cayman Islands.
The information also reveals that the Farm has been aware of problems such as overcrowding and disease for more than six months, despite publicly denying any issues exist.
Last year, an undercover investigation by WSPA revealed horrific animal cruelty at the Farm including instances of cannibalism, overcrowding and genetic defects among the 9,000 resident sea turtles.
When WSPA presented its evidence to the Cayman Turtle Farm’s bosses, they firmly rejected it, calling our claims "unfounded, erroneous and sensationalised".
Farm covered up problems
Confidential documents sent to WSPA reveal that the Farm secretly ordered an immediate assessment of its facility which identified similar problems to those highlighted by WSPA.
Its own findings confirmed that a significant number of turtles have injuries consistent with severe overcrowding and that disease is a “serious problem”. Despite this, the Cayman Turtle Farm has focused all its attention on rubbishing WSPA’s investigation, rather than urgently dealing with issues its own assessment uncovered.
Second report confirms suffering
The findings of a second assessment, arranged by the Farm in December 2012 following continued pressure from WSPA and its supporters, were finally made public on Friday.
The report concludes that there is “clearly room for improvement in standards of care [at the Farm] which will require immediate changes in infrastructure, processes, staffing and resources”.
Key concerns include: “severe injuries” among “a notable proportion of animals”, including “deep ulceration to the shoulder, forelimbs, head and hind limbs; skin lesions” and “high mortality levels” in younger turtles.
The panel responsible for the second report was also concerned that “similar recommendations had been made in the past but have not been acted on”.
WSPA calls on Farm to make changes
WSPA Wildlife Campaign Leader Dr. Neil D’Cruze said: “While these findings vindicate our concerns and finally recognise the serious issues we have been raising for months, we fear that their recommendations will, sadly, do little to improve turtle welfare in the long term.
“Very little attention has been paid to addressing the fundamental issue at stake – that green sea turtles are wild solitary animals that simply cannot adapt to life crammed into a Farm with 9000 other turtles.” WSPA representatives are due to meet with Farm bosses on Tuesday 29 January and hand over a 140,000 strong petition calling for the ending of sea turtle farming.