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New research supports animal welfare concern for Cayman Farm sea turtles

Sep 27, 2013

We are saddened to hear that a high proportion of turtles housed in the Cayman Island’s Turtle Farm are still exhibiting signs of injury, disease and other abnormalities resulting from intensive farming practices.

The latest news comes in a new piece of research published this week by the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics.

The study team’s new research report, Welfare and Environmental Implications of Farmed Sea Turtles, directly contradicts claims made by the Turtle Farm’s independent assessment inspection in December 2012, where it was claimed there was no strong evidence for our own concerns about animal welfare.

The authors of the new research concluded that the biological needs of the turtles are incompatible with the artificial, intensive and under-stimulating conditions at the Farm:

Author, Clifford Warwick said “Our detailed evidence-based research into farming practices at the Cayman Turtle Farm has highlighted a range of physical and behavioral problems, some of which are extremely serious.

“In our view, these concerns are unresolvable, the Farm simply cannot replicate the turtle’s natural habitat, nor can it meet their biological needs within a captive environment. Also, the transmission of potentially dangerous pathogens from the turtles to the visiting public continues to represent a significant health risk”

The report presents a major challenge for the managers of the Cayman Turtle Farm, who committed earlier this year to improve conditions for the 9,500 turtles in their care. The report’s findings also tally with our own undercover investigation conducted over a year ago, which revealed worrying welfare concerns.

Research echoes WSPA’s concerns

Commenting on the new research, WSPA wildlife advisor and campaign leader, Dr. Neil D’Cruze said:

"The turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm are still exhibiting signs consistent with animal cruelty, which is extremely worrying. Despite WSPA raising concerns over a year ago, this new scientific report shows that the turtles are still suffering.

“WSPA has met with the new Caymanian Government and had open and candid talks to ensure that positive steps are taken to help the thousands of sea turtles which continue to suffer at the Cayman Turtle Farm. We hope the new government will learn from the errors of its predecessors and ultimately see that the long term solution for the Cayman Turtle Farm is to become a turtle rehabilitation and release facility.”

Read the full research paper here >>.

Find out more information about our work to improve conditions at the Cayman Turtle Farm >>.

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