South Lake Safari zoo has earnt itself a notorious reputation as one of the most negligent and controversial in the world. And sadly, it seems it is a deserved reputation.
But now, despite the horrific acts of cruelty that have taken place there, the park has just received a renewal of its license, and will reopen under new owners.
The Cumbrian zoo was originally under the ownership of a man named David Gill, who opened it in 1994 in an area of Dalton-in-Furness. The park grew to become one of the biggest in the country, bringing in around 250,000 visitors a year and earning an annual income of £3 million.
But disconcerting reports have arisen that tell of how the animals at the zoo have suffered at the hands of some of the most inhumane acts of animal cruelty ever seen.
What has happened there?
In February, a report came out that said between December 2013 and September 2016, 486 animals in total had died at the zoo, mostly as a result of cruel circumstances, including hypothermia and emaciation.
At the zoo, a squirrel monkey was found dead behind a radiator. In the past, lemurs and birds had been run over and killed by the park’s miniature train. An alpaca has died from hypothermia, and a jaguar had chewed off its own paw after stepping on broken glass and nails. And horrifyingly, these are just a few of the desparately sad ways the animals have met their end at the zoo.
And terrifyingly it’s not just animals that have suffered from the neglect at the zoo. In 2014, a lady called Sarah McClay, 24, who worked at the zoo, was killed after a Sumatran tiger mauled her, causing irreparable injuries. Gill initially said that she hadn’t followed correct procedure, but it was found that a gate whose lock was faulty, meaning the tiger could come into the corridor, was at fault.
David Gill, the zoo’s founder, handed over ownership of the zoo to Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd. in January of this year, after he was refused the chance to renew his license. A lady called Karen Brewer is now in charge, but some are disputing how fit she is to run the zoo too. She’d been involved with the zoo itself since 2011, under Gill’s ownership…
Renewal of the zoo’s license…
But of course, the move to re-open the zoo, even under new leaders, is causing huge concern.
The Captive Animals Society told The Guardian that the new company could hold many of the same beliefs of the old one. They said, “Four out of eight of the new directors of Cumbria Zoo Ltd are past directors or key managers at South Lakes Safari zoo,”
“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.”
Maddy Taylor, from the charity, also told The Guardian, “Some improvements may have been made in recent months, but it is not a new zoo. There is a history of suffering and neglect.”
However, others are stating that the fact that the zoo is under new ownership now means that it will be able to fix its past problems.