UK zoo to close over deaths of hundreds of animals


—File Photo

—File Photo

LONDON: A British zoo where nearly 500 animals died of poor nutrition, cramped conditions and hypothermia over four years is set to close after officials on Monday refused to renew its licence.

Inspectors who surveyed Lakes Safari Zoo in northwest England said they were “dismayed by the obvious deficiencies in the accommodation, the overcrowding and the lack of proper welfare and husbandry”.

The local Barrow Borough Council’s licensing regulatory committee rejected the application by zoo founder David Gill, who now has 28 days to lodge an appeal.

The deaths of 486 animals from January 2013 to September 2016 revealed “a clear picture of poor management with uncontrolled breeding and lack of any programme of preventative and curative veterinary medicine”, said the inspectors’ report.

They also recommended Gill be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act.

In 2016, 123 animals died including a West African giraffe which was euthanised a day after collapsing.

A red kangaroo also died following a head trauma and six lion cubs were euthanised because the facility was not big enough to house them.

The report notes they were “healthy cubs and nothing wrong with them”.

An African spurred tortoise was electrocuted on an electric fence, while a leopard tortoise died from cold.

Keepers told the inspecting team they had been informed to dispose of the animals’ bodies and not tell anyone about them.

The zoo was fined £255,000 ($316,000, 299,500 euros) last June for health and safety reasons following the 2013 death of one of its zookeepers, Sarah McClay, who was mauled by a Sumatran tiger.—AFP