Zoo looks to Glasgow after council snub

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BOSSES at Edinburgh Zoo today warned they could direct future investment to a new development in Glasgow instead of the Capital.

They have been involved for some time in talks about a new animal attraction close to the site in Glasgow's East End due to be developed for the Commonwealth Games.

And following the city council's decision to oppose the zoo's plan to sell off land on Corstorphine Hill for housing, they said they had to consider where it was best to invest their limited resources.

David Windmill, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, insisted there were no plans to move the zoo, despite a bid by Glasgow City Council to lure them to the west.

But he said they were disappointed at the council's stance which effectively blocked plans for a 72 million expansion of the zoo on its current site.

Glasgow City Council yesterday announced its officials were investigating what they could do to assist the zoo to relocate to the west.

Mr Windmill said : "The society has no plans to move to Glasgow, however, we have been investigating having an animal visitor attraction on the west coast and are currently undertaking a feasibility study with South Lanarkshire Council.

"As a national organisation we do feel that we should have a presence in or near Scotland's largest city.

"We have to look to where we can best invest our money to achieve our charitable and commercial objectives.

"The help we get from local authorities is clearly important.

"If we are going to invest limited resources we have to look at where best to do that.

"It's how much we invest in Edinburgh and how much we could potentially invest in Glasgow."

Glasgow Zoo closed in Calder Park in 2004, but the Zoological Society of Glasgow & West of Scotland, which ran it, still exists.

Mr Windmill said the zoo had been in talks with South Lanarkshire for about 18 months.

He said: "As part of the regeneration of that area it was felt a visitor attraction was needed and we have been talking to South Lanarkshire Council who have a piece of land near the Clyde which would be suitable."

Paul Godzick, Labour's culture and recreation spokesman on the city council, said: "This is a mess of the Lib Dem's making.

"The zoo has been in Edinburgh for many, many years and plays an important role in the city.

"The administration should give its support and get its act together."

Edinburgh Labour leader Ewan Aitken has lodged a motion for tomorrow's full council meeting, in which he calls on councillors to "express commitment to retaining Edinburgh Zoo in Edinburgh".

He also wants the director of city development to explore ways in which the council can help zoo chiefs deliver its vision for the future.

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