Wales

Coronavirus: Borth zoo warns it might have to put down animals

Tracy and Dean Tweedy
Image caption The owners say they have a week's worth of money left

A zoo that had to shut due to the coronavirus pandemic says it faces having to rehome or even put down its animals.

Borth Wild Animal Kingdom was told to shut in January by Ceredigion council because of a shortage of staff licensed to use firearms.

Apart from the lions' enclosure, the zoo reopened in February but had to shut again during lockdown.

Its owners say they are having money problems and cannot keep going.

Tracy and Dean Tweedy say they have about a week's worth of money left.

After that, they said they would "have to start looking at rehoming or, as a last resort, euthanising the animals that we care for".

Image copyright Borth Wild Animal Kingdom
Image caption Lilleth the Eurasian lynx evaded traps put out to catch her after her escape in 2017

Ms Tweedy said many staff have been furloughed and, while the zoo did receive a business relief grant of £25,000, that money has now nearly run out.

She said it costs £3,000 a week to run the zoo and she is disappointed that while the Westminster government has announced a fund to help zoos in England, there is no similar support in Wales.

"We were already only scraping by financially after the long, quiet winter season," Ms Tweedy said.

"We need help now more than ever. Despite everything, we are as determined as ever to not give up."

The Welsh Government said it had already provided all licensed zoos with details of existing support schemes.

It said its £500m economic resilience fund provided more generous support than one specifically for zoos would have.

"If any zoo operators have concerns about their ability to meet the needs of their animals, they should contact their local authority's animal health team for advice without delay as they are on hand to offer support," a spokeswoman said.

Image caption Dean and Tracy Tweedy bought the zoo for £625,000 in 2016

Problems for the zoo began in late 2017 when Lilleth the Eurasian lynx escaped and was shot dead by a marksman after being found at a nearby caravan site.

A second lynx, Nilly, also died in what was described as a "handling error".

Following these deaths, the zoo was banned from keeping dangerous animals but, in July 2018, it was handed a reprieve and given six months to hire a qualified manager.

In January 2019, it was served with a notice to shut its dangerous animal enclosures because of inadequate firearms arrangements.

But the owners reopened the attraction in February, apart from the lion area, saying it would not survive otherwise, before lockdown caused it to close once more.

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