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Cumbrian zoo where 500 animals died granted new licence

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Inspectors told local council they were ‘highly encouraged’ by improvements made at South Lakes Safari zoo


A zoo in Cumbria where nearly 500 animals died in less than four years has been granted a new licence by the local authority.
In February a damning report on conditions at South Lakes Safari zoo in Dalton-in-Furness said 486 animals died of causes including emaciation and hypothermia between December 2013 and September 2016.
The founder of the zoo, David Gill, was refused a licence to run the zoo in March after handing responsibility for the business to a new company, Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd, in January.
The company applied for a licence to run the attraction, which was accepted by Barrow borough council’s licensing regulatory committee on Tuesday.
Earlier this month government-appointed inspectors recommended to the council that the company should be granted a licence to run the zoo, saying they had been “impressed and highly encouraged by the improvements made”.
In their report, the inspectors said they had been pleased by “the palpable change of culture and attitude of all staff, their level of engagement, dedication and enthusiasm, and ambitious plans to move forward now that the owner/previous director is no longer involved.”
Last June the zoo was fined £255,000 for health and safety breaches after the death of keeper Sarah McClay, 24, who was mauled by a Sumatran tiger in 2013. Gill was criticised for saying McClay died because she failed to follow the correct procedures.
Among a catalogue of animal deaths in the report produced in February were those of two snow leopard cubs, Miska and Natasja, who were discovered partially eaten in their enclosure. An African spurred tortoise named Goliath died after being electrocuted by fencing, and the decomposing body of a squirrel monkey was discovered behind a radiator.
Karen Brewer, the chief executive of Cumbria Zoo Company, told the North West Evening Mail that it felt “liberating” to be in control of the zoo’s destiny. “It feels like all the hard work of the last 17 weeks have finally paid off,” she said.
The Captive Animals Society has been critical of the change of management, describing it as inadequate. “Four out of eight of the new directors of Cumbria Zoo Ltd are past directors or key managers at South Lakes Safari zoo,” it said.
“The CEO of Cumbria zoo, Karen Brewer, has been present at South Lakes Safari zoo inspections as far back as 2011. At these inspections, inspectors have raised varying degrees of animal welfare concerns and deaths.”
Responding to Tuesday’s decision, Maddy Taylor from the charity said: “Some improvements may have been made in recent months, but it is not a new zoo. There is a history of suffering and neglect.”

Tags animaux zoos cruauté maltraitance

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