Mistreatment allegations levelled at animal park

The opening of a new Dunedin animal park has been soured by an SPCA investigation into allegations of animal mistreatment, which have left the owner heartbroken.

Animal Ark owner Kelly Linnell strongly denies any mistreatment of animals at the attraction, which opened to the public earlier this month.

The park, on the outskirts of Mosgiel, houses a variety of animals, including emus, deer, and horses.

SPCA national communications manager Kim Taylor confirmed it was investigating the park, saying it was contacted regarding animal welfare concerns at the property.

It could not comment further while the investigation was under way.

Animal Ark owner Kelly Linnell rewards some of her petting animals after a day with the public....
Animal Ark owner Kelly Linnell rewards some of her petting animals after a day with the public. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Ms Linnell posted on Facebook saying the allegations were unfounded.

"We are an open book at The Animal Ark.

"We have nothing to hide."

Inspectors on the site found nothing but one messy nesting box, she said.

SPCA and Ministry of Primary Industries staff arrived at the park unannounced last Tuesday, Ms Linnell said, and spent hours inspecting the site.

"I'm sure you can all imagine, this was incredibly stressful, and to be honest, pretty heartbreaking.

"As people who have always done their best to try and help any animal where we can, to have someone accusing us of mistreatment and poor stock management was really degrading and upsetting."

SPCA and MPI staff went into every single locked shed, her private residential area and other spaces that had nothing to do with the farm, she said.

"This accusation has really cut me deep."

She had received hundreds of comments of support since she made the post, and said
she was grateful for the support.



Was probably a 'karen' with nothing better to do.

Anonymous allegations - classy. Really brave, too. My condolences to Kelly and the team: it must be sickening having this to deal with.
The lack of information from all agencies involved is unforgivable too, doubling down on the passive aggression faced by the owners. And in the meantime, there's that risk that mud will stick. Nobody looks to be coming out of this well.
For the record, my family visited recently and had a great time, found the facilities perfectly well maintained and would love to return. I'm disgusted by this performance and hope that Animal Ark get the chance to move on and put it behind them.

No publicity is bad publicity! I hadn’t heard of this place until this article and now am excited to take the kids out to see these animals! They have loved well managed farm parks overseas where they can feed and pet the animals, so hope this one stays open so it can be enjoyed by families for years to come. Well done with your initiative and I hope the SPCA give you a good review. Just what Dunedin needs.