In Brief

Calls for South Lakes Safari Zoo to close after 486 animals die in four years

Campaigners urge councillors to refuse new licence for Cumbria attraction

Calls are growing for a zoo in Cumbria to be closed after nearly 500 animals died there in four years.South Lakes Safari Zoo, whose licence is up for renewal, had a death rate of 12 per cent of its animal residents between 2013 and 2016, reports The Guardian.

Causes of death included emaciation, hypothermia and one animal being run over, claims a damning report from Barrow council. Welfare inspectors are calling for the local authority to prosecute founder David Gill under the Animal Welfare Act.

Inspectors found the decomposing body of a squirrel monkey had been left behind a radiator and heard that an African spurred tortoise had died after coming into contact with electric fencing.

Two snow leopard cubs were discovered partially eaten in October 2015 and two giraffes died within nine months in the same year.

"Overcrowding, poor hygiene, poor nutrition, lack of suitable animal husbandry and a lack of any sort of developed veterinary care" were causing "significant problems", said inspectors.

Animal charity the Captive Animals Protection Society has called on the local authorities to reject the zoo's application for its licence to be renewed, saying the findings were "nothing short of shocking".

According to Sky News, "lawyers for Mr Gill said that although he remained the licence holder he had stepped away from all trading and management activities connected with the zoo, transferring full responsibility to Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd."

Karen Brewer, chief executive of Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd, said she was committed to treating all animals with respect and providing environments that focused on "the animals' physical and behavioural needs".

Barrow Borough Council's licensing regulatory committee will decide the zoo's fate at a meeting next Monday.

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