A third animal rights group has joined the campaign to close a Christchurch wildlife park, which has been labelled as "cruel" by activists.
The Seafield Wildlife Park is owned by the Christchurch City Council and is home to rabbits, pigs and various birds including ducks and chickens. It's been in operation since the 1970s and is a popular attraction for children popping into the beach at Spencer Park.
Activist group SAFE released a statement this morning, claiming the council was leaving rabbits and birds in "barren" and "unsafe" conditions.
The group's head of investigations Will Appelbe believes the park does not provide adequate clean water, food or healthcare.
"The council is obliged to provide proper and sufficient care to the animals at this park, and for some time that has not been happening," he said in a statement.
"The best thing for these animals is for them to be rehomed and the park closed. We're calling on Mayor Phil Mauger and the Christchurch City Council to shut down the Wildlife Park."
It comes after Christchurch Rabbit Rescue seized two rabbits from cages in the park in January. The activists claim one rabbit, named Fred, was suffering from stress induced heart problems, dehydration and was losing function in his hind legs. The other — Plushy Boy — was missing chunks from his nose and ear.
Concerns have been raised as far back as 2019, according to North Canterbury Chicken Rescue.
Council promises to make improvements
In response, the Christchurch City Council said it had been working closely with the Christchurch Rabbit Rescue and the SPCA to "make any improvements necessary".
Their head of parks Andrew Rutledge claimed his team had followed all advice and recommendations given to them.
"Together we have been working to improve the rabbit enclosure, with new water bowls in addition to the dripper water line already in place. We have also changed the type of hay and pellets and removed all of the pine shavings from the floor as per the group's recommendations," he said.
Rutledge said a vet had made a site check in October 2022, and found the animals were in good condition and health and facilities were well maintained.
"Following the recent concerns raised, the rabbits have had an additional, precautionary check-up this week from a vet offering specialist care."
The parks manager promised to continue providing information to animal welfare groups and said he was "very grateful" for their help.
He would not commit to a closure, instead saying animal facilities at the park were "up to standard", and the health and welfare of the animals would be monitored and "improved where necessary".