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BBC Scotland's David Henderson
"The zoo say they are hiring out the animals in order to make ends meet"
 real 28k

Saturday, 26 February, 2000, 18:25 GMT
Zoo animals for hire

Petra the camel
Petra the camel could soon be experiencing life outside the zoo

Glasgow Zoo is to hire out some of its animals for social functions to try to raise much-needed cash.

The park is facing a cut in funding from the council and executives see charging for appearances as a way of making ends meet.

Following special requests from members of the public, the zoo's animals have in the past featured free of charge at special events.

But under this new scheme the appearances could cost as much as 900 a time.

Glasgow Zoo logo The zoo has all sorts of animals
While animal welfare campaigners have criticised the plans, zoo director Richard O'Grady says the creatures are used to meeting the public and will not suffer any stress.

Glasgow Zoo looks almost certain to lose a Glasgow Council grant of some 132,000 and Mr O'Grady admitted he was considering hiring out animals in order to safeguard the 15 permanent staff and the future of the attraction.

Reptiles, insects, exotic birds, Llamas, horses, donkeys and the zoo's only camel, Petra, are all being made available.

Plan questioned

Tigers and lions will not however be on loan for parties and public appearances.

Animal rights groups, such as Animal Concern, have expressed reservations about the project and the effect it might have on the animals.

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman confirmed that it grants a licence every four years to the zoo and it has the power to revoke it if there are concerns about animal welfare.

News of the animal hire scheme comes amid speculation that pop star Victoria Adams and her footballing husband David Beckham are planning a 10,000 circus-style party to celebrate their son Brooklyn's first birthday.

It has been reported that the couple are hoping to have a troupe of clowns and animals at the party.

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