Cumbrian Zoo facing calls to close
Cumbrian Zoo facing calls to close after nearly 500 animals die in less than four years
The zoo is facing calls to close down after nearly 500 animals died in less than four years, including a tortoise which was electrocuted and a lemur which found its way into the wolf enclosure.
Also among the animals to have died was a tiger who mauled a keeper to death.
The incidents have emerged in a report by inspectors which has been presented to Barrow Borough Council ahead of a decision on whether to approve the zoo’s application to renew its licence.
South Lakes Safari Zoo in Dalton, Cumbria, was fined for health and safety breaches last year over the death of 24-year-old Sarah McClay, who suffered deep puncture wounds to her body at the hands of a Sumatran tiger.
The animal was not put down at the time, at the request of Ms McClay’s family, but he was later put to sleep, apparently because of his age.
However the papers show that the zoo’s vet was instructed to kill the big cat by zoo founder David Gill with “no notes as to reason”.
The documents submitted to the council contain details of incidents between December 2013 and September 2016 a jaguar that chewed off its own paw, seven healthy lion cubs and five baboons that were “euthanised” because there was no room for them, a rhino that was crushed to death by its partner, and a giraffe that was shot after collapsing.
Maddie Taylor, campaigns officer at the Captive Animal Protection Society, said: “The findings at South Lakes Safari Zoo are some of the worst we have ever come across in 60 years.
“Our visit to the Cumbrian Zoo combined with the zoo inspectors’ reports shows high death rates of animals, animals in ill health and a lack of understanding about how to meet even the most basic needs of the animals under their care.
“We urge the local authority to take action by closing this appalling zoo down.”
Mr Gill is still the licence holder but passed on responsibility for managing the zoo to Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd at the end of 2016.
A spokesman for Mr Gill told the Guardian he had since “stepped away from all trading and management activities connected with the zoo”.
Karen Brewer, chief executive of Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd, said animals in the zoo were treated with respect and provided with environments that focused on their “physical and behavioural needs”.
Inspectors have recommended that the council refuses to grant a new licence when it meets to make a decision.
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