England: Zoo Gets New Licence Despite 500 Animal Deaths in The Past – Seems To Be New Name; All Ok In Council Eyes !

SAV Comment

Councils are supposed to be run by intelligent people.  Despite overwhelming evidence to have the facility remain closed; dim wits at the council decided against it – granting a new licence to people that have been involved with the deaths of over 500 animals before.  All that has really changed is that a new company was formed by old staff to effectively continue trading.  Everyone apart from the council could see though this; but unfortunately these were the thickheads who passed to allow the new zoo to continue operating.  We have many words for them, but ‘councillor’ is not one.  Sad situation when the ‘Captive Animal Protection Society (CAPS)’ – a national UK welfare organisation watching these type of facilities, is put on a lower scale that the thickheads who work at the council and who have no experience of animal welfare issues.  One has to ask what favours are being given by whom, to who, to allow this kind of thing to happen.


This is our recent post relating to this facility.


In a hearing held yesterday, Barrow Borough Council made this disappointing but unsurprising decision. The licence, which will last 4 years, has been granted to Karen Brewer of Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd, a new company that was set up by staff at the zoo. The licence will come into force once the previous licence holder, David Gill, withdraws his licence and ends his appeal.

As an animal charity which has spent decades monitoring and investigating zoos, the history of animal suffering and death at this zoo is one of the worst cases we have ever seen. Hundreds of animals have died of preventable deaths and have undergone horrific suffering at the zoo for years and it should have been shut down a long time ago.

Key management who have been heavily involved at the zoo in the past have now been given the stamp of approval to run the zoo despite the long history of suffering.


Council grants licence for South Lakes Safari Zoo

I am sad to tell you that South Lakes Safari Zoo, where almost 500 animals died due to mismanagement and neglect, will remain open.

The new licence applicant, Karen Brewer, was awarded the zoo licence by the local council at a hearing yesterday.  This decision was made despite outcry by the public, complaints from concerned residents, animal protection organisations and ex-employees.

One ex-employee of the zoo claimed he had been told by management to feed the animals “mouldy bread” and had to regularly “beg for scraps of food” from the zoo’s restaurant “just to give the animals some fresh food”.

Campaigns Officer, Maddy Taylor, presented at the hearing outlining your concerns and being the voice for the animals. We made it clear that the awarding of this licence is a mistake, especially when the horrors at this zoo have been going on for years and the council should have closed it down a long time ago. 

Read more here: https://www.captiveanimals.org/news/2017/05/council-grants-licence-for-south-lakes-safari-zoo-to-remain-open

It is difficult to say to you that we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, as although we knew the chances were low and the odds stacked against us (and the animals), you can’t help but hope. We fought as hard as we could within a poor legal system which seems to be designed to keep zoos going.

This is why with your help, we carry out vital work exposing the poor regulation of zoos, the widespread issues of keeping animals in captivity and advocate for an end to captivity altogether – it is the only outcome that will guarantee animals are completely free from human exploitation.

As a result of this case, DEFRA have indicated they are looking into the Zoo Licensing Act and I am busy working on a report to send to them containing all the evidence we have gathered on where this law is failing animals. This is just one action out of many that you have supported so thank you again.

Closing down South Lakes zoo would have been a victory for animals but it still would have only been small chip out of a industry rife with poor regulation, animal suffering and exploitation. This is why the campaigning must and will continue to focus on the industry as a whole and the ethics of captivity as well as on individual zoos like this. So let us pick ourselves up and continue to fight, as the animals still need us.

Nicola O’Brien

Campaigns Director

P.S. I am sad to share this news with you but we must use this result to expose the wider, fundamental issues of the zoo industry as a whole – the poor regulations, the welfare compromises, the ethics.

Thank you for helping us to do this. If you have any questions about the South Lakes Safari Zoo campaign, feel free to reply to this email.





Four Paws – Mosul Rescue Update 13/4/17.

Further great news relating to our recent post –



Dear Mark,

After a long and complicated mission, we are overjoyed to announce that Simba and Lula have safely arrived at the New Hope Centre in Amman, Jordan. Our dedicated and exhausted team released the two animals yesterday morning.

Mark, your overwhelming support has not been overlooked. We simply can’t thank you enough for your kindness and generosity over these past few weeks. Thank you.

This mission began on 28 March when the FOUR PAWS team entered the Mosul zoo for the first rescue attempt. The animals were examined, anaesthetised, loaded onto a truck and headed to the border out of Mosul. However,  the team was unexpectedly prevented from leaving Mosul with the animals.

The Iraqi military returned the animals to the zoo while the team was forced to head back to Erbil to regroup and decide on the course of action. Lengthy negotiations followed and two days later, the team entered Mosul for the second rescue attempt. Once again, they were stopped at a checkpoint near the border out of Mosul.

Despite the difficulties, we never gave up hope. 

Finally, after nine days of waiting, the team was given clearance to cross the border with the animals and the following day departed in a cargo plane from Erbil airport to Jordan.

Simba and Lula have since moved into their temporary enclosures where they have felt grass under their feet for the first time in their lives.

There, they will be given the time they need to adapt and recover from these past stressful months at the bombed-out Montazah Al-Morour zoo in Mosul. And once they have adapted to their new surroundings, they will be released into their large, permanent homes.

We look forward to updating you on Lula and Simba over the coming months. In the meantime, please visit our website or follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates.

Once again, thank you for making this mission possible!

Kindest regards,

Saige Jennings



Thailand: Mali Has Been Alone Without Care For 40 Years. She Has Been Offered A Sanctuary Home But The Zoo Refuses. Petition Them Here.



Mali the elephant holds her own tail for comfort. She suffers from cracked nails and foot pads. She has never had proper medical care.

She is suffering, and it is up to us to help her.

Mali has been held in a barren pen at the Manila Zoo for 40 years. Decades spent pacing back and forth on a concrete floor have left her with potentially fatal foot problems. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand has offered Mali a place where she can roam freely, receive the medical care she needs, and interact with other elephants. But the Manila Zoo has refused to let her go.

Please sign this Care2 petition demanding that Mali be retired to Boon Lott’s Sanctuary as soon as possible.

Elephants in the wild spend up to 18 hours a day walking on grass, soil, dirt, and mud. There is no way that elephants living in places like the Manila Zoo are able to get enough exercise to prevent cracked nails, overgrown cuticles, cracked pads, and arthritis.

When captive elephants develop foot and joint problems, it is imperative that they get care immediately before their wounds become infected. Mali has not received the appropriate foot care in the entire time that she has been held at the Manila Zoo. Elephant experts who have observed her recently now fear for her life.

Mali has spent 40 years alone and in pain at a facility that has done nothing to help her. Together we must speak out to make sure she spends her last years in a place that will nurture her back to health, provide her with a natural habitat, and expose her to the company of other elephants.

Sign this petition to free Mali from the Manila Zoo and send her to Boon Lott’s Sanctuary.

Thank you,

 Please crosspost !

UK travel firm becomes the first to drop zoos. There was “no justifiable reason” to keep animals in captivity.

UK travel firm becomes the first to drop zoos

Responsible Travel withdraws trips that include visits to zoos but will continue to work with sanctuaries and rescue centres.

A UK travel company has pledged to stop promoting zoos and laid down guidelines for the kinds of animal facilities it will continue to work with.

Responsible Travel said there was “no justifiable reason” to keep animals in captivity, in an announcement backed by the Born Free Foundation and actor and animal welfare campaigner Joanna Lumley.

It gave four key reasons for its decision:

Issues in animal welfare have long been recognised

There are many ways of educating people about wildlife that don’t involve keeping animals in captivity.

While some zoos do fund worthwhile conservation programmes, on average zoos are only encouraged to spend 3% of their expenditure on conservation.

About 90% of animals kept in zoos are not endangered.

So far, Responsible Travel has removed six trips from its site that include visits to zoos. It is also conducting an “in-depth audit” of all captive animal facilities visited on the trips it sells, which it says incorporates a significant proportion of the itineraries it offers around the world, to ensure they comply with its new guidelines.

The site will still promote legitimate animal sanctuaries and rescue centres for animals that cannot be returned to the wild, as well as rehabilitation centres for animals that will be returned to the wild, as long as no captive breeding takes place in these facilities.

It will also promote “genuine endangered species conservation centres”.

Responsible Travel, which works with 375 tour operators around the world, is the first travel company to make a strong statement regarding zoos, a move that comes as a growing number of tour operators are coming under pressure to take a stand against animal attractions.

In February, Virgin Holidays said it would no longer sell or promote any new attractions or hotels that featured captive whales and dolphins for entertainment purposes (though it continues to sell to around 30 attractions that currently do so), and last October TripAdvisor announced it would discontinue selling tickets for specific tourism experiences where travellers came into physical contact with captive wild animals, such as elephant rides, petting tigers and swimming with dolphins.

In a blog on the issue, Responsible Travel CEO Justin Francis said: “Our conclusion is that zoos are not appropriate in 2017. They are relics of the past, and the arguments to justify keeping animals in captivity no longer stand up.”

He added: “In our view, rather than being self-proclaimed conservation organisations they are in fact businesses that exploit animals for profit. We hope that other travel businesses and tour operators will join us in creating a movement for change that recognises that zoos are outdated, unethical and unnecessary.”



UK: ‘Four Paws’ Team Brave It In Mosul To Rescue Remaining Zoo Animals.

Dear Mark,

Lula and Simba’s rescue is finally within reach.

After two very challenging days, we’re happy to announce that a FOUR PAWS team has returned to Mosul, Iraq to rescue Lula the bear and Simba the lion from the Montazah Al-Morour Zoo.

A massive thank you to everyone who has donated over the past few weeks. Your kindness and generosity has helped make this rescue mission a reality.

If you haven’t had a chance to give, we need your help now more than ever.


To donate to this rescue mission – https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/6098#/DonationDetails

This mission has not been an easy one.

After successfully removing Lula and Simba from the zoo on Tuesday afternoon, our team was detained at the first military checkpoint departing Mosul. Forced to surrender Lula and Simba to the authorities, our team was asked to leave Mosul without them. The two animals were then sadly returned to the Mosul zoo.

Being turned away was devastating. But we didn’t give up. Following our return to Erbil, we entered hours of negotiation with Iraqi authorities, military and zoo representatives. Our hard work paid off.

Despite the challenges, success is within reach. But we still need your help.

As of this morning, Lula and Simba have been carefully prepared for their journey to a new home. And as you read this email, the team and the animals are patiently waiting to leave Mosul for good.

If you haven’t donated already, please make a donation today.

Your gift could help give Lula and Simba a better life, and support our work with animals around the world.

Thank you.

Kindest regards,

Saige Jennings




Indonesia: Your Support and Actions Have Now Made A Big Difference. New Legislation To Be Introduced Nationally.

Relating to one of our recent campaigns:









Your efforts and actions have hopefully now made a difference:


Animal protection laws promised after Indonesian bear footage goes viral

21 February 2017

Animal lovers are celebrating as Indonesia’s government finally acknowledged zoos need standardised laws on animal care to avoid cruelty.

Footage showing sun bears in poor conditions at Bandung Zoo set the internet alight last month with people around the world voicing anger and sorrow that any animal could be kept in such appalling conditions.

Read more:

Indonesia’s Bandung Zoo bears need more than food

International spotlight means hope for Indonesia’s Bandung Zoo bears

With those conditions not confined to just one zoo, Animals Asia called for legislative change to improve the welfare of all animals at all facilities.

Following months of criticism the Indonesian government appears to have heeded the calls and has promised to standardise captive animal care through national regulation.

It’s a move that could not only safeguard the future of these bears but also improve the lives of thousands of captive animals across the country.

The nation’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar told media such legal protection was necessary to avoid future problems and specifically referred to Bandung Zoo where the sun bears are kept.

Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale responded:

“This announcement is very promising and exactly what we have been calling for. It clearly shows the government taking the concern of domestic and global citizens seriously and responding to criticism. However, we need to wait for the government to release the regulation before we can comment on the potential effectiveness.”

The world was alerted to the dire conditions of sun bears at Bandung Zoo by local NGO Scorpion Foundation. The charity is partly funded by Animals Asia to expose animal welfare abuses such as this.

Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“This is very much a step in the right direction for Indonesia and has the potential to change the lives of thousands of animals. We thank the government for listening to criticism and the willingness they have shown to respond and look for solutions. We look forward to seeing the draft regulation and advising where necessary.”


Other AA news:  https://www.animalsasia.org/uk/media/news/



England: Cumbrian zoo where almost 500 animals died is refused new licence.


Regarding our recent post re Cumbria zoo:



Today, 6/3/17 we have the news that we had hoped we would get:


Cumbrian zoo where almost 500 animals died is refused new licence.

Application by founder of South Lakes Safari zoo turned down after inspectors reported ‘obvious deficiencies’.

The founder of a zoo in Cumbria, where nearly 500 animals died in less than four years, has been refused a new licence to run it.

The chair of Barrow council’s licensing committee, Tony Callister, said the unanimous decision was made because councillors were not satisfied conservation matters referred to in the Zoo Licensing Act would be implemented.

Callister said the committee had taken into account Gill’s conviction under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 regarding the escape into the wild of a number of sacred ibis.

The committee heard inspectors had visited South Lakes Safari zoo in January and were “dismayed by the obvious deficiencies in the accommodation, the overcrowding and the lack of proper welfare and husbandry”.

If we really love animals, we should close all zoos now

Catherine Bennett

They are the last of the Georgian cruelty shows, yet the public seems unmoved by the suffering they cause

Read more

Last week, a damning report on conditions at the tourist attraction in Dalton-in-Furness, which is home to more than 1,500 animals, found 486 inhabitants died of causes including emaciation and hypothermia between December 2013 and September 2016.

Inspectors recommended the local authority refuse to renew the zoo’s licence and that Gill, who founded the zoo in 1994, be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act for allowing animals to suffer.

The inspectors, who are appointed by the government, found “overcrowding, poor hygiene, poor nutrition, lack of suitable animal husbandry and a lack of any sort of developed veterinary care” when they visited.

The zoo was awarded a six-year licence in June 2010 and the council received Gill’s application for renewal in January 2016. In July 2016 the council rejected the application, agreeing with inspectors that Gill was “not a fit and suitable person” to manage the zoo.

But the law dictates that if the licensee reapplies for a new licence, the existing licence continues to apply until the application has been processed or withdrawn. Although Gill’s licence has now been terminated, the zoo will stay open until a decision is made this summer on a licence application by Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd, which now runs the attraction.

The zoo was fined £255,000 last June for health and safety breaches after the death of keeper Sarah McClay, 24, who was mauled by a Sumatran tiger in 2013. Gill was criticised for saying McClay died because she failed to follow the correct procedures.

Among a catalogue of animal deaths in the report were those of two snow leopard cubs named Miska and Natasja, who were discovered partially eaten in their enclosure. An African spurred tortoise named Goliath died after being electrocuted by electric fencing, and the decomposing body of a squirrel monkey was discovered behind a radiator.

Following the publication of the inspectors’ report, a spokeswoman for the Captive Animals’ Protection Society said the zoo licensing system was failing to protect animals and accused local authorities of neglecting to punish zoos that fell below required standards.

The charity has called for a centralised body to monitor zoo standards, to replace the current system where local authorities are responsible for organising inspections.

Gill formally handed over management of the zoo to Cumbria Zoo Company and its chief executive, Karen Brewer, in January. The business is leasing the zoo for six months from Gill, whose lawyer said he had “stepped away from all trading and management activities connected with the zoo”.

Cumbria Zoo Company is in the process of purchasing South Lakes Safari Zoo Ltd, the former operating company, from owner Gill.

Inspectors remained unconvinced that this transfer of power was enough to change conditions, accusing Gill of being “desperate to continue to maintain control over the zoo in one form or another”.

“Between November and July 2015, nine different management teams have been proposed to the [local authority] to manage the zoo,” the report reads.

But there has always been a single common denominator behind all these changes; [David Gill] continued to run the zoo, either directly or indirectly, with [Karen Brewer] being presented as the manager or CEO.”

In a response to an inspectors’ report last year, Brewer defended Gill against what she described as unwarranted personal attacks. “What perhaps is hard to perceive for the inspectors, and for myself and the management to portray, is the synergistic relationship between Safari Zoo and David Gill,” she wrote.

“I am confident in my own position to manage the zoo without David here on a regular basis, but we do need his ideas and his contribution in this zoo as it is vital to keep its heart alive.”

A spokesperson for the Captive Animals Society criticised the change of management as inadequate. “Four out of eight of the new directors of Cumbria Zoo Ltd are past directors or key managers at South Lakes Safari Zoo,” it said.

“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.”



And from the BBC:


South Lakes Safari Zoo: Council refuses owner licence

The owner of a zoo criticised over animal welfare concerns and where a keeper was killed by a tiger has lost his bid to renew his licence.

David Gill’s claim for a licence to run South Lakes Safari Zoo in Dalton-in-Furness was unanimously refused by Barrow councillors.

He now has 28 days to appeal. In February, a report found 486 animals had died there in four years.

Inspectors had previously recommended new management should be found.

In 2013, keeper Sarah McClay, from Glasgow, was mauled to death by a tiger and the zoo was later fined £297,500 for health and safety breaches.

See more reaction here

Will the zoo close?

According to the council’s report, the zoo should close to the public “upon refusal of the licence”.

However, the closure is delayed if an appeal is made, which Mr Gill has 28 days to lodge.

He launched his bid for a fresh licence after councillors previously rejected his claim to renew the licence he was originally granted in 1994.

Mr Gill has handed management of South Lakes over to the Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd and said he plans to sell the zoo to that group as well.

The zoo company’s application for a licence to run the zoo is yet to be heard.

After the hearing, Ms McClay’s boyfriend David Shaw said he was “satisfied” with the council’s decision and said he hoped Mr Gill would step aside so Cumbria Zoo Company would “prove they can operate in a safe way”.

Mr Gill did not attend the hearing at Barrow Town Hall and councillors rejected an appeal from his solicitor Steve Walker to postpone the meeting.

Mr Walker said his client no longer wanted to run the zoo, which houses 1,500 animals including tigers, giraffes and rare birds, but did not want to see it close before the new company had a licence approved.

Cumbria Police raised concerns that only three zoo staff members held firearms certificates in the event of an animal escaping.

Following a site visit in January, government-appointment inspectors said they were “dismayed by the obvious deficiencies in the accommodation, the overcrowding and the lack of proper welfare and husbandry”.

Deaths included two rare snow leopards found partially eaten and seven “healthy lion cubs euthanised because the zoo did not have space to house them”.

The inspectors also found cold animals in the unheated Africa House, which was so badly designed, its sloped yard was finished with smooth instead of rough concrete, causing a giraffe to slip to its death.

‘Bound to get bitten’

Inspectors also raised concerns about animals fighting each other, uncontrolled breeding of lemurs and a heightened risk of public safety.

Mr Gill said animals in the wild “get injured when fighting” and “people are bound to get bitten occasionally”, the report said.

The report to the council’s licensing committee also criticised the zoo’s duty of care to its staff.

One example given was that of workers wanting to access the Andean bear building had to crawl through the doors used by the animals.

The zoo was also previously fined £42,500 after a keeper fell from a ladder while preparing to feed big cats in July 2014.

Mr Gill has also been convicted over the escape of a number of sacred ibis.

The Captive Animals’ Protection Society (Caps), which also inspected South Lakes, said the zoo was one of the worst it had seen.

‘Absolutely gobsmacked’

Katie Richards, from charity Born Free, said she had visited the zoo on Sunday and had been able to take part in feeding a jaguar using a pair of tongs through a cage.

She said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked by how close you could get to those animals with a pair of tongs.

“The problem here and the issue is both animal welfare and public safety and I felt very unsafe in that situation.”

In a letter to the committee, Mr Gill’s representatives said he was “absolutely committed to leaving the zoo” and transferring it to the new company.