27th September 2023

An informal inspection of South Lakes Safari Zoo, in Cumbria, England, was carried out by Westmorland and Furness Council veterinary advisor Dr Matthew Brash in May, and found that the facility was unable to present full and satisfactory veterinary records to inspectors. The zoo has a long history of failing the animals held captive there, which led to a committee licensing meeting on the 16th February 2023 deciding that they would be given a one year reprieve to improve the site or face closure. Three months later, this inspection found that they couldn’t even demonstrate appropriate veterinary care. 

A further concerning note in the report was that the inspector actually credited the zoo with a "deliberate decrease" in the number of animals since the last inspection in November last year. If the number of animals in the zoo has decreased, where are they going? Are they being transferred to other facilities? If so, which ones? And if not, are there other methods of 'population control' in play? This year, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria confirmed their stance on ‘management euthanasia’ in a statement that read “management euthanasia/culling is an appropriate measure where offspring numbers are unpredictable and large populations develop”. 

What is the truth behind South Lakes Zoo’s “deliberate decrease”? The answers to questions such as this shouldn't be secrets - the public has a right to know how animals are being treated behind closed doors. Our No More Zoo Secrets campaign is directly working on this issue, to call for more transparency in zoos. South Lakes Zoo has been intentionally breeding animals for decades to provide tourist attractions to tempt paying customers, and now that they are on their last warning with the local authority, they are disposing of the animals in their care because they can’t provide for them. This should not be considered a credit to the zoo, but a horrifying consequence of their long history of mismanagement.

For many years we have monitored the conditions at South Lakes Safari Zoo. Over the years we have found significant overcrowding, lack of enrichment in all enclosures, zoochosis and stereotypies in many animals, insufficient heating, and untreated illness and injuries. They have a long history of failing their animals that goes back decades. From a rhino escape leading to their death in 1997, to a keeper being mauled to death by a tiger in 2013, alongside appalling conditions being documented for the animals throughout, and 500 animals dying between 2013 and 2016: South Lakes Safari Zoo has earned its title of “Britain’s Worst Zoo”. Now, on its last warning with the council, the zoo is still showing evidence of failure. 

The council's regulatory committee will discuss the report and whether to make any changes to the zoo's licence on Thursday. Enough is enough. We demand that the zoo’s licence be revoked, that the local authority assist with the relocation of the animals housed there, and that the facility be closed for good. 

Sign the petition today to end this misery before it claims more lives.
Join the protests in the local area to demand the zoo’s closure.
Demand that DEFRA ensure transparency in zoos’ ‘population management’