South Lakes Safari Zoo’s owner has just had his claim to renew its license denied by Barrow Council. But why should we worry about this? Well, the reason for this is that David Gill is currently running one of the most unsafe zoos in the country, endangering animals and people alike.
You may have heard of Sarah McClay. But if you haven’t, she was a worker at the zoo who was mauled to death by a tiger in 2013. This was a tragic national news story of a women killed due to faulty gates, and underfed predatory animals. The inquest into her death concluded that the tigers were “fasted” when Sarah stepped into their enclosure, before they broke through a faulty gate and killed her as families tragically heard her screams. However, the zoo were let off lightly, only receiving a £297,500 fine.
You may be thinking that might be enough to close the company, but there’s more. A total of 486 animals have died there in the just four years, a staggering total for a zoo that only houses 1,500 animals. What’s more, David Gill has also been convicted of losing a number of ibis.
On top of this there have been incidents including a worker falling from a ladder whilst feeding big cats, and some employees even had to go through the same door used by bears to access the Andean Bear Building. All this points to a badly run business, threatening both the animals and workers.
So, ‘what is to be done?’, as Lenin once said. Well, the solution is simple: not to renew Gill’s license. Thankfully the Barrow Council have done just that. What is now unresolved is what will happen now. Cumbria Zoo Company Limited has taken control of managing the zoo, but that is unfortunately insufficient. Supporters of the zoo argue that it is an important slice of Cumbria’s economy, and history. Yet, can it still make money for the area with such a poor reputation? My advice is to release these poor animals, and save the zoo from becoming even more of a farce than it is now. This simply has to stop.