Zoo where Scot was killed gets backing for new licence

Sarah McClay was killed after being mauled by a tiger. Picture; contributed
Sarah McClay was killed after being mauled by a tiger. Picture; contributed
Share this article

A zoo where Sarah McClay was mauled to death by a tiger has been backed from government inspectors and licensing officers to remain open.

Sarah McClay, 24, suffered multiple injuries when she was attacked at South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, in May 2013.

A new claim was made for a licence after an application in March was rejected to keep South Lakes Safari Zoo open.

Initially the application by the wildlife park, where 486 animals died between January 2013 and September 2016, was unanimously refused by councillors in Barrow.

Fiona McClay, the mother of the zookeeper Fiona McClay said in January that it should be shut down.

READ MORE: Sarah McClay’s family still coming to terms with tragic death

However, the zoo has since been taken over by Cumbria Zoo Company Limited and it is understood that a fresh bid for a license has obtained backing from government inspectors and officers.

It has been reported that previous owner. David Gill, has stepped away from all trading and management aspects of the zoo.

In a report to the council reported in the Herald the inspections reported: “The inspectors were impressed and highly encouraged by the improvements made since the takeover of full management since January 2017, the palpable change of culture and attitude of all staff, their level of engagement and enthusiasm and ambitious plans to move forward.”

The Captive Animals’ Protection society stated that many of the changes made “simply provide the bare minimum” and “are too little too late”.

Licensing officers have recommended that committee members should be granted a licence for four years, subject to the previous owner surrendering his license.

Inspectors said that while some concerns remained, they were satisfied with the management and staffing structure in place.