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Highland zoo closes amid serious animal welfare concerns

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Animal rights group is furious it took two years to close the zoo that was "seriously below standard"

A Scottish zoo has had its licence revoked over animal welfare problems.

Animal rights groups welcomed the move to permanently close Black Isle Wildlife Park in the Highlands, which is home to zebras, goats and meerkats, following a Highland Council special inspection.

It emerged that the licence for the park had been given to a staff member who did not know how to house reptiles or even how to feed the donkey and goats kept on the premises.

There were also instances of animals escaping enclosures, dead animals not being disposed of properly and a meerkat being run over and killed by a tractor taking visitors around the park.

Opened in 1995, the zoo faced controversy over animals escaping, including a llama that leapt out of its pen and went on the run just a few days after arriving at the park in 2013.

A licence has been granted to someone who shouldn’t be looking after a case of stuffed budgies - John Robins

A wallaby called Joey also escaped in 2011 and was found among a flock of sheep.

All zoos in Scotland must apply to the local authority for a licence to operate.

Welfare organisation Animal Concern Advice Line (ACAL) welcomed the decision to close the zoo.

John Robins of ACAL said: “Yet again we see animals suffering because a zoo licence has been granted to someone who shouldn’t be looking after a Victorian case of stuffed budgies,” he hit out.

“It took around two years to close the Fife zoo and the same for this one on the Black Isle. When animals are suffering and dying it should not take two years to make them safe.

“I do not think local councils have the resources and very specialised skills needed to deal with zoo licensing and the whole process should be dealt with at Scottish Government level.”

A council spokesman said: "Earlier this year the council carried out a number of inspections of the park in response to complaints by members of the public about issues relating to animal welfare and general maintenance of the zoo.

“An inspection carried out by a Highland Council environmental health officer accompanied by a ouncil-appointed vet highlighted a variety of welfare and husbandry issues.

“Following the inspection, the council acted under the Zoo Licensing Act and arranged a further special inspection to be carried out by a Scottish Government appointed specialist vet.

“Findings of the special inspection and the specialist vet’s report indicated that the zoo was found to be seriously below the standards required for operators to be in possession of a zoo licence, and was non-compliant with a large number of standard conditions of zoo practice.”

The order to close comes into effect after a 28-day appeal period.



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