Devon

Hollywood movie zoo in TB outbreak

Benjamin Mee and Matt Damon Image copyright Benjamin Mee
Image caption Matt Damon starred as the zoo's owner Benjamin Mee in the 2011 film We Bought a Zoo

A zoo that inspired a Hollywood film has had an outbreak of TB, it has been confirmed.

Dartmoor Zoo in Devon said a strain of the disease had been found in an antelope after it was put down last year.

It said badgers were the "possible" carriers of the disease but was not calling for a cull.

The zoo inspired the 2011 film We Bought a Zoo, starring Matt Damon as the zoo's owner Benjamin Mee.

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Image copyright Paignton Zoo
Image caption TB at Dartmoor and Paignton zoos were found in antelopes

Dartmoor Zoo and Paignton Zoo in south Devon are the only zoos or wildlife parks in England currently with TB outbreaks, according to Defra.

Dartmoor Zoo said in a statement that the positive test meant that its Balai status had been removed, meaning that animals that could be affected by TB would not be allowed in or out of the zoo.

The zoo said in a statement that there was "no increased risk to our human visitors" and it was "open as usual".

Instead it would make animal enclosures badger-proof and was considering inoculating animals against TB.

Image copyright Paignton Zoo
Image caption Paignton Zoo is giving animals contraception to prevent populations increasing amid restrictions on animal movements
Image copyright Google
Image caption Dartmoor Zoo is trying to keep badgers out of animals' pens and is considering inoculating animals against TB

Paignton Zoo has also said it suspects badgers brought TB into its zoo.

TB was found at Paignton last summer and 11 antelope were put down.

It has improved its fencing to keep badgers out and is giving animals contraception to prevent overcrowding amid the movement restrictions.

Both zoos hope restrictions will be removed by the end of the year.

Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust, said it was "unfair" to blame badgers and that the zoos should look at testing food and animals brought in.

"It's easy to focus on badgers but it could be coming in from raw meat," he said.

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