Lynx deaths prompt Ben Fogle’s action call on small zoos

Borth Wild Animal KingdomImage copyright Wales & Co
Image caption Borth Wild Animal Kingdom remains closed

Broadcaster Ben Fogle has called for “reflection” on the licensing of small zoos following the death of two lynx in Ceredigion.

A marksman shot one cat after it escaped from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom and another died in a “handling error”.

Fogle, the newly appointed UN patron of the wilderness, said the decision to destroy the lynx was “heavy handed”.

The zoo has said it was making “vast improvements” and Ceredigion council has defended shooting the escaped lynx.

“Two lynx have died in the course of a week and, I think, there are failings across the board,” Fogle said.

Image copyright Borth Wild Animal Kingdom
Image caption Lilleth was killed on Friday after going missing from her enclosure

Ceredigion council has defended its decision to bring in a marksman to humanely destroy Lilleth the lynx on Friday, sparking a backlash from the zoo’s owners who had been trying to capture her with bait traps.

Lilleth is believed to have escaped after making a “giant leap” over an electrified fence.

On Monday, the zoo owners revealed a second lynx, Nilly, died following a “handling error” when she became twisted in a catch-pole as staff tried to move her into a different enclosure ahead of a council inspection.

Asked about the licensing of small or hobby zoos, Fogle said: “I think we need to look very closely at how we look after our creatures and there have been reports across the United Kingdom of private collections, open collections, that don’t seem to be taking that responsibility seriously or fairly.”

Image copyright PA

In an interview on Monday, zoo owner Tracey Tweedy, who bought the attraction with her husband, Dean, a year ago, said: “I don’t regret buying this place because I know that despite all this we will make it what it should be.

“It is a sanctuary for animals and they should be here and be safe and the fact that we have let down two of our precious lynx is just horrific. There is no excuse,” she said.

The council has previously said it would carry out an inspection of the zoo later this month.

The Lynx UK Trust, which is trying to reintroduce the animals in the UK, called for the zoo to be closed, saying the deaths were “unacceptable”.

Its petition has attracted support from over 7,500 people.

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