A visitor to Lincoln’s Whisby Garden Centre, just off the A46, has questioned the welfare standards of the animals in its care, sparking a wave of similar complaints on social media.
They told The Lincolnite donkeys’ hooves looked like they had not been cut for some time and they believed sheep were suffering from fly strike (where flies lay eggs in open wounds or infections.)
Whisby Animal Centre, which is home to a range of small animals including goats, donkeys and sheep, is one of the garden centre’s main attractions but complaints about welfare can be found in TripAdvisor reviews dating back to 2013.
According to their website, the family run business charges £4.95 for children and £1 for adult visitors to enter the park where the animals are kept.
The concerned visitor, who asked not to be named, said: “It is drawing in plenty of money so there is no excuse for the way these animals are being treated.
“While I was there I saw donkeys with very overgrown feet which struggled to stand and walk.
“There was a sheep with its back end covered in manure and it was being followed around by a swarm of greenbottle flies, which lay their eggs in the manure. The maggots hatch a few days later and begin to eat the flesh of the animal which is obviously agonising and distressing.
“I can’t believe animals with such obvious problems are on public display. These animals require urgent treatment.”
“If animals won’t allow someone to trim their feet, they need to be sedated by a vet.”
Hundreds of others commented on a post on the You’re Probably From Lincoln If… Facebook group with similar concerns, many about the length of animals’ hooves.
The RSPCA told The Lincolnite that it is unable to comment or confirm if any complaints about the centre had been made, but said it looks into and investigates any complaints made to them.
“We are so grateful to people who report suspected animal suffering to us and we would like to reassure people we will always look into and, if necessary, investigate any complaints made to us about animal welfare,”said Leanne Plumtree for the RSPCA.
“A lot of the time issues will be dealt with by advice and education and it is not always appropriate to publicise this information for legal reasons.”
Whisby Garden Centre has been contacted by The Lincolnite but declined to comment.
UPDATE: Whisby Garden Centre responded to mounting complaints on social media by calling the claims “misguided”.
A Trading Standards spokesperson told The Lincolnite in the days following the social media storm that an inspector had visited the business and they had no concerns about the animals in their care.