The 'threat' of the Turtle Farm

World Animal Protection is deeply saddened, but unfortunately not surprised, to hear the latest revelations of animal cruelty at the Cayman Turtle Farm. As the Cayman Compass reported recently, in 2014, the Farm lost a total of 1,268 endangered Green Turtles due to a “mystery illness” over a period of just four months, with an average of about 10 turtles dying each day.

This “mystery illness” was caused by Clostridium, a bacteria that makes toxins that are dangerous for humans, leading to botulism, tetanus and even death if they are eaten. Only now, more than 12 months later, is this information publicly available, following a Freedom of Information request by a journalist at the Cayman Compass.

It is crystal clear that both the animal cruelty and human health threat of this outbreak were kept secret from Caymanian residents and tourists alike. What is not yet clear, is the extent, if at all, [that] the Cayman Islands government or even the U.K. government were aware of these serious concerns. However, we do know that the farm was aware, which is exactly why this news was hidden for so long, and why the farm’s management fought so hard to keep this information out of the public eye.

Unfortunately, losing more than 1,000 endangered sea turtles and a potential zoonotic disease outbreak has not been enough to stir the Cayman Islands government into action. However, in stark contrast, the Ministry of Tourism has now rapidly responded to a viral video of [Cayman Turtle Farm Managing Director] Tim Adam berating a member of his staff. The latest revelations regarding the farm are not only truly astounding but also serve to demonstrate that the Cayman Islands government can intervene if it has a mind to.

In recent weeks, the farm has yet again proved that it represents a severe threat to the health of its visitors and the economy of the Cayman Islands.

The burning question now is just what will it take to instigate real change at this farcical facility?

Dr. Neil D’Cruze, Head of Wildlife Research & Policy, World Animal Protection