Flaviu’s escape from the Dartmoor Zoo spurs The British Big Cats Society to propose use of GPS tracking devices

FlaviuBMee

The Herald reported this week that The British Big Cats Society (BBCS) is calling for big cats in captivity to be fitted with GPS trackers after a lynx escaped from Dartmoor Zoo and lived in the wild for three weeks.

BBCS founded by Plymouth entrepreneur Danny Bamping, wants the government to make it a legal requirement in the UK. He said the escape of a lynx from Dartmoor Zoo in July, by managing to chew his way through an enclosure wall, “raised several issues.”

“If Flaviu the Carpathian lynx was microchipped with a GPS trackable implant then it would have been probably caught within 23 hours and not 23 days,” said Bamping.

“Devon residents and police should be thankful that it was not ‘proper’ big cat that escaped such as a leopard, tiger, jaguar or lion.”

Dartmoor Zoo owner, Ben Mee, dismissed the suggestion, claiming it would be harmful to implant tracking devices in animals bred in captivity. He told the BBC: “I think it’s a great idea if the technology exists that’s small enough to broadcast a reliable signal that doesn’t harm the animal, that would be fantastic.” But he argued current GPS tracking devices used on big cats in the wild would be an “encumbrance” for animals in a zoo. He stressed that animal escapes from zoos were “phenomenally rare” and that he wished the lynx incident had never happened, despite the huge public interest it created.

The UK animal welfare charity, Four Paws, said it welcomed any extra measures to “improve the ability of zoos and relevant authorities to respond effectively and humanely when animals do escape.”

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