A public animal park run by the Christchurch City Council has been labelled as “cruel” by two animal rescue groups who are calling for its doors to be shut for good.
Spencer Park is accused of creating an environment for animals – including rabbits, ducks and chickens – that leaves them stressed, starving and physically hurt.
Christchurch City Council says it is concerned about the wellbeing of the animals on display and that they have regular checks, including vet visits.
But 12 days ago, Lucy Bell of Christchurch Rabbit Rescue seized two rabbits from their Spencer Park cages who were unwell.
One of them, named Fred, is suffering from stress-induced heart problems, severe dehydration and is losing function in his hind legs.
Plushy Boy, Bell’s second rescue, is missing chunks from his nose and ear.
Returning to the park nearly two weeks later, she’s disappointed to see the remaining animals still living in what she believes are sub-standard conditions.
“It’s not good ’cause they [Christchurch City Council] haven’t done any of the recommendations I spoke to them about,” she said.
Amanda Gill of North Canterbury Chicken Rescue is similarly upset, being driven to tears as she watches a starving duck eat a sparrow.
“I’ve never seen a duck do that ever,” she said, wiping tears away. “They’re so hungry every time I come here, it’s just like a death sentence for every animal that’s here.”
Gill has complained about Spencer Park’s conditions since 2019, noting similar suffering she has seen in the park’s aviaries as well.
“It’s nearly up there with being as bad as a hoarding situation, there’s no food.”
The council says it has responded to concerns from rescue groups and is grateful for their help in improving the standard of care.
But Bell and Gill are not convinced, demanding that Spencer Park either improve its conditions soon or close up.
“They [animals] can live a happier life and better life … [do they] not deserve that?” said Bell.