2nd March 2020

The ex-boss of the infamous South Lakes Safari Zoo has appealed against the Lake District National Park Authority's decision to refuse a planning application to build a horse riding centre. David Rivera, formerly known as David Gill, hopes to create the centre at Winsor Farm in Wasdale Head, Cumbria. 

The initial application was withdrawn last year after huge numbers of concerned members of the public submitted objections. However, the plans were later resubmitted and rejected in December 2019.

South Lakes Safari Zoo hit the headlines in 2017 when it was discovered that around 500 animals had died in horrific and cruel ways between December 2013 and September 2016 during Rivera's time at the zoo. It was reported that zoo inspectors stated that 'the entire blame for the attraction’s problems could be laid at his door.' Amongst these shocking deaths was an African spurred tortoise who died of electrocution after coming into contact with electric fencing. Two snow leopard cubs were also found to have been partially eaten in their enclosure.

Sam Threadgill, the Director of Freedom for Animals, said;

Rivera has consistently proven that he is unfit to care for any animal, as the shocking events at South Lakes Safari Zoo testify. During his tenure at the zoo, animals were electrocuted, starved and disease-ridden. We are very concerned for any animals who have the misfortune in end up in his care.

You can comment against the appeal by emailing the Planning Inspectorate at [email protected].