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Wednesday, 27 February, 2002, 21:35 GMT
Zoo board refuses to resign
Flossie and Flora will be leaving the zoo
Financial problems mean Flossie and Flora are leaving
The board of Dudley Zoo, responsible for running the tourist attraction for the last 65 years, has refused a demand to step down.

It had been faced with an ultimatum from the zoo's sole shareholder, Labour-run Dudley Council.

The special meeting on Wednesday followed the local authority's demand that funding arrangements be put on a different footing in the light of losses for the year which are expected to reach 500,000.

Chairman of Dudley Zoo board and former leader of the authority, Fred Hunt, said members had instead requested another meeting with members of the council but had also reported them to the charity commissioners.

Dudley Zoo entrance
The Zoo has struggled financially

The entire board could now be sacked when the council holds a full meeting of the authority on Monday.

Last year nearly 1m of council tax money was put into the zoo which is also said to owe the authority 750,000 for catering services.

The attraction's long-running financial plight led two developers - St Modwen and Bellway Urban Partnerships - to put forward plans which would have netted the zoo several million pounds in much-needed investment.

In June 2001, Councillor David Sparks, who had responsibility for the zoo on the authority, said: "I urge those concerned about the zoo to remove their rose-tinted spectacles and see it as it really is.

"It desperately needs huge investment to continue and the zoo board have been unwilling or unable to suggest a way forward save for more public subsidy."

Under the plans the castle, traditionally part of the zoo, would have been hived off and run as a separate attraction.

The plans also included extensive redesigning of the zoo using leading zoological experts as advisors.

Following demands for a reduction in expenditure, the visitor centre - opened by the Queen in 1994 - has been temporarily closed.

The board is currently subject to a spending "embargo" which prevents members from sanctioning any expenditure without the local authority's consent.

See also:

03 Aug 01 | UK
Rare leopard bred in zoo
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