Men admit break-in at Hampshire zoo in which giraffes and tigers suffered

Two men have admitted breaking into a zoo and damaging the penguin and giraffe enclosures during an incident in which a bottle was allegedly thrown at a giraffe’s head.

Nathan Daniels, 21, admitted damaging the penguin enclosure at Marwell zoo, near Southampton, while Bradley Green, 24, admitted damaging an enclosure containing giraffes.

The two men are due to be sentenced in January. Charges in relation to the same incident against two other people – Jason Huggitt, 24, and Coral Lock, 23 – were dropped. Green had already pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal at an earlier hearing.

Winchester crown court heard keepers at the Hampshire zoo felt many of the animals in their care had been left “very distressed”, particularly the giraffes and tigers.

Video footage posted on social media at the time of the incident in February 2021 appeared to show a bottle being thrown at a giraffe’s head. A tiger was also filmed apparently being encouraged to approach a fence, before a person kicked out at it, startling it.

Police units – including armed response officers with night vision goggles, a dog unit and a helicopter – were dispatched after the incident, amid fears endangered animals were at risk.

Previously, Basingstoke magistrates court heard the men cut through a “double chain link fence” before entering the zoo. The prosecutor David Fosler told magistrates: “The zoo’s general maintenance manager found that an internal fence had been cut in a vertical line. A barbed wire fence had also been cut.

“Several animal enclosures were interfered with. The zoo’s keepers say the animals were very distressed, particularly the giraffes, cheetahs and tigers.”

Daniels and Green, both from Fareham in Hampshire, were released on unconditional bail until they appear again at Winchester crown court for sentencing in January. Judge Andrew Barnett warned the pair if they did not attend, they would be committing a further criminal offence.

Marwell zoo opened in 1972 and has four giraffes and two tigers, as well as endangered species such as southern white rhinoceros, Amur leopards, giant anteaters and Pygmy hippos.