Animal house

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 January, 2009, 12:00am

If you've ever been scratched by a cat, barked at by a dog or treated with indifference by a goldfish, you'll know that animals are unpredictable. Pet owners know it and so do the keepers of wild animals in captivity. Which is why it's odd that there's been such a furore over the recent actions of a few animals at Ocean Park.

A sea lion grazed its trainer, a panda attacked its keeper and, sadly, some sturgeon died. These are unfortunate incidents but they should not be viewed as neglect or abuse. Ocean Park is a big place with many animals that are well cared for - and accidents do happen.

If such incidents had taken place in your street and involved your neighbours and their pets, you would probably never have heard about them. If you had, it's unlikely you would have wasted your time passing comment and you certainly wouldn't have told a reporter. Imagine the headlines: 'Shock, horror: cat takes swipe at passing butterfly.' It's ludicrous.

Anyone who visits the park can see the conditions in which the animals are kept and the care lavished on them by the staff - you could argue it's reassuring that, despite the artificial habitat, the animals are still behaving naturally. One can't help wonder if there is some sinister agenda behind these accusations and you might ask who would benefit most from the demise of Ocean Park.