The Wildway Mini Zoo, also known as Cookham Zoo or Wildway Wildlife, has applied to the Royal Borough of Maidenhead and Windsor Council, to gain permanent residency for their current temporary site located at Lower Mount Farm in Cookham, England. However, this could be denied after many people opposed this in the public consultation that just ended on 29th December 2023.
The anti-captivity animal protection organisation Freedom For Animals has been encouraging residents to participate in the consultation, highlighting the reasons why the application should be rejected. Among others, there are environmental reasons, because the site is unsuitable for the long-term housing of animals as it is a site of ecological interest and classified green-belt land, and the Cookham area has had issues with sustained flooding and flash floods in the past. Freedom for Animals stated that “The sustained presence of unnatural zoo enclosures in the environment will create unnecessary competition with native species for food, and a higher risk of contaminating local water sources they depend on to survive. A lack of suitable infrastructure also means a lack of suitable cleaning and drainage facilities. The runoff caused from not appropriately managing animal waste due to these issues could lead to a higher risk of zoonotic disease spreading both within the zoo and externally to the wider environment; with contamination possibly travelling even further afield when future flooding occurs in the area.”
The exotic species present at the zoo should not be kept in captivity, but the wooden sheds that cannot be effectively insulated proposed in the application would make them even less suitable in the current cold location. Freedom for Animals is also concerned about the physical interactions with the public. They write, “It is clear from Wildway Mini Zoo’s social media channels and website, that they regularly allow up close and personal visitor interaction with the animals, as well as travelling to external events. Many animal charities, including the well-respected public body, the RSPCA, have raised serious welfare issues surrounding animals to this intense public contact in the name of ‘entertainment’. It is a cruel practice and one which should be winding down, not expanding.”