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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 17:23 GMT
Zoo's anger over closure call
Tigers are a big attraction at Dartmoor Wildlife Park
The owner of a Devon zoo has denounced claims by an animal welfare group that he should lose his licence.

The Captive Animals Protection Society (Caps) criticised living conditions and provision of safety barriers at Dartmoor Wildlife Park, Sparkwell, near Plymouth.

Ellis Daw, who runs the park, denied the allegations.

He said the park had been running since 1968 without an accident and everything was investigated and checked by South Hams District Council.

Ellis Daw
Ellis Daw says he is angry about the report
"I am very angry," said Mr Dawes. "They are great big enclosures with vegetation and trees, a new style which we started 10 or 12 years ago which other zoos have copied."

Caps campaigns against zoos and animal circuses.

It produced a 13-page report after sending an investigator to the zoo.

Caps criticised living conditions for some animals, notably three European brown bears.

It also criticised the zoo for having inadequate signposts and a lack of barriers to protect the public from caged animals.

The park's bear enclosure came in for criticism,
Caps investigator, Craig Armstrong, said he was "amazed" that the park's zoo licence had been renewed in February.

Mr Armstong said: "Of all the zoos I have visited on behalf of Caps, I have never noted so many concerns about health and safety.

"There are a catalogue of serious accidents waiting to happen here."

Caps is calling for the park's licence to be revoked and for the zoo to take immediate action to rectify health and safety issues there.

Mr Armstrong said a copy of the report has been sent to South Hams District Council, adding that Caps would also be contacting the Zoo Federation about the issue.

South Hams council said specialists from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs carried out periodic inspections.

Following an inspection at the end of last year, inspectors said they were satisfied the licence could be renewed, providing some animal welfare and public safety issues were addressed.

Report awaited

A report from the inspectors on whether the conditions were being met was awaited, said the council.

But Peter Wheardon, the divisional environmental health officer at the council said that taking away the licence would not do the animals any favours.

"It is a very serious measure to take," he said.

"If a licence is revoked, we have to find somewhere else for the animals to go. It could mean the destruction of the animals, which would be unfortunate."

Ellis Daw said: "They are very good enclosures. No accidents in 33 years. Doesn't that say something?"

See also:

01 Nov 01 | England
Elephants leave London
17 Oct 01 | England
Red panda triplets meet their man
26 Aug 01 | Health
Zoo diseases 'threaten visitors'
14 Nov 00 | Health
Experiments in the human zoo
10 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Elephant born online
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