Chessington bans 'baffling' animal print clothing

image captionKeepers at Chessington World of Adventures Resort fear the clothing, including onesies such as this, could affect the behaviour of their animals

Animal print clothing has been banned from a wildlife park in Surrey because it is confusing the animals.

Chessington World of Adventures Resort has hired bouncers to make sure visitors are following the new rule.

Spokeswoman Natalie Dilloway said a lot of animals were "becoming baffled" by what seemed to be zebras and giraffes on their terrain.

Other zoos, including London Zoo, Longleat Safari Park and Whipsnade Zoo, said animal print was not banned.

'Run away in fear'

Chessington's ban follows the launch of the park's African experience Zufari, which allows guests to take an off-road "safari".

The 22-acre trail is modelled on the Serengeti plains, enabling guests to interact more closely with the animals.

Keepers said animal prints could cause the animals to try to communicate with those wearing them, or to run away in fear.

It has also banned such clothing from elsewhere on the site.

Anyone seen wearing animal print is being supplied with a grey boilers suit by the security staff.

'Signs of danger'

Banned prints include zebra, giraffe, leopard, cheetah, tiger, spotted hyena, striped hyena and African wild dog.

Martin Stevens, a senior research fellow at the University of Exeter who specialises in animal colouration and behaviour, said: "It's possible the animals could misinterpret the clothing if they are looking out for signs of danger.

"However, animals will process a whole bunch of information, including smell and how it's moving, to deduce whether it's a threat."

London Zoo, Longleat Safari Park and Whipsnade Zoo said visitors had not been banned from wearing animal print clothing.

A spokesman for Longleat said: "We ensure that the environment that the animals live in is safe.

"We are comfortable that neither our animals or visitors are at risk of any harm."

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