A County Durham zoo exposed by us for leaving sick animals untreated and corpses to rot has withdrawn its application for a zoo licence.

Tweddle Farm, at Blackhall Colliery, had recently applied for a licence – three years after we were first informed the local authority it was operating illegally.

Our investigation earlier this year brought the zoo to the attention of national media over its animal welfare and public health standards.

An undercover researcher from the charity worked at the Farm for over a month, recording poor conditions for the animals and breaches of public health and safety. The charity also submitted a detailed objection to the Farm’s application for a zoo licence.

The council has confirmed that some animals have already been removed from the site and others are currently ‘off display’. Unfortunately it is likely that the premises will remain as a petting zoo with farmed and domestic animals despite the evidence we presented.

Craig Redmond, Campaigns Director said:

“We are delighted that Tweddle Farm has now withdrawn its application for a zoo licence and we expect that it finally realised it could not meet the conditions required, both in terms of providing for the proper welfare of animals and ensuring the safety of the public.

“Our investigation revealed that sick animals were left untreated and some animals fed on junk food. Post mortems were not carried out on those who died to determine cause of death and some were simply left to rot or put in freezers on top of food.

“Public health concerns were equally shocking, with café food stored inappropriately and e coli discovered in the animal petting area.

“This had all been allowed to continue because of the failure of the local authorities to act since we first alerted them in 2007 to Tweddle Farm operating without a licence.

“However, there was a happy ending for some animals, including the capuchin monkey Josh, who was rehomed to the Wild Futures monkey sanctuary in Cornwall following our exposé, where he now has the company of other capuchins and a proper diet. Three rabbits we rescued were successfully treated for diseases and abscesses and have found caring homes.

“We now hope to liaise with Durham County Council to ensure suitable rehoming of those animals who need to leave the premises. We will also continue to monitor standards for animals remaining at the Farm.”