Yesterday, the head of the Trois Vallée Zoo in Montredon-Labessonnié appeared in Castres for several offenses.
Since opening to the public on 1 July 2013, the history of the Trois Vallée Zoo has been filled with incidents, reports and administrative injunctions. Yesterday, all day, a new episode, at the legal level this time, was before the Criminal Court in Castres.
No less than 16 offenses – from the operation of a classified plant that does not comply with the requirements, from the irregular operation of companies that keep non-domestic animals, to involuntary injuries through covert work – are attributed to the building manager, doctor and businessman Sauveur Ferrara and the three former zoo bosses, less involved: Sébastien Muller, Alain Bouchet and Michael Sorensen.
In this file “poorly put together, which has not developed in 6 years” according to the president, 23 natural or legal persons have filed civil cases, including former employees, the association Stéphane Lamart “In defense of animal rights” and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation.
The first report dates back to February 2013, a few months before the official opening of the zoo to the public. It is carried out by the Brigitte Bardot Foundation and raises deficiencies that endanger animals but also staff and visitors. This was followed by a prefectural formal announcement in March 2013. And until 2017, the prefecture’s checks and orders followed each other, always revealing a few more shortcomings and especially, according to the Department of Social Cohesion and Population Protection (DDCSPP), non – Compliance with registers and unsecured enclosures. “It is a whimsical procedure in which we have hidden the essentials,” said Ms Françoise Mathe, Sauveur Ferrara’s lawyer, from the outset, lamenting that many of the documents they had submitted to the court were not included in the minutes. “You can not rule without it. These documents could make it possible to recreate the truth,” she added, before reiterating her request for unification and raising the idea of a dismissal, supported by others from his colleagues except by Me Soubiran, lawyer. for capacity holder Sébastien Muller. “Mr. Ferrara is trying to damage my client’s image to cleanse himself. This has been his strategy from the start and he continues. I am against it,” he said. After withdrawing for a few moments, the court dismissed the merger request and the hearing resumed. Complicated, complex hearing, where everything was dissected without always having real explanations of facts from the defendants. Leading a leader and three capacity managers, who have not always all agreed on how the structure works and is organized. “At each check, there were things that were not up to standard. Since 2012? The registers have never been updated. And the efforts that the company has made were not sustainable over time. Animals not always microchipped, high mortality, animal escapes. “Mr Ferrara should have taken matters into his own hands and not trusted that the controls could act. We could have avoided all that.” , trusted Pascal Pouzenc, head of OFB’s branch service. At the same time, several letters written by staff were sent to DDCSPP about a “zoo bazaar”, “several malfunctions that endanger animal life”, “moral harassment of veterinarians” but also “an impossible dialogue with the leader”.
One of the former employees even compared the structure to “a concentration camp for animals. He kept telling us when he was talking about animals, we should see them, they should pay their wages”. “These are lies. They want revenge,” Sauveur Ferrara replied firmly in his defense.
“The capacity holders replaced each other and the problems continued. Also because Mr Ferrara interfered a lot in the operational management of the zoo …”, the prosecutor declared, before requesting 6 months’ conditional imprisonment for the manager and a fine of 10,000 euros, 3 months probation to Sébastien Muller and 5,000 euros in fines, 2,000 euros in fines to Alain Boucher and release to Michael Sørensen. The decision will be made shortly.