Wildlife presenter Ben Fogle has warned it is time to “look very closely” at how zoos look after animals after two lynx from the same wildlife park died within a few days of each other.
The broadcaster, who has been appointed as the UN’s patron of the wilderness, said there are “failing across the board”.
His comments come after two lynx from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, in Wales, died.
One lynx, Lillith, was shot dead last week by Ceredigion County Council after she escaped her enclosure and another wild cat died following a “terrible handling error”, which caused the animal to be asphyxiated.
When asked about the licensing of small or hobby zoos, the BBC reports that Fogle said: “I think we need to look very closely at how we look after our creatures and there have been reports across the United Kingdom of private collections, open collections, that don’t seem to be taking that responsibility seriously or fairly.”
Both Fogle and wildlife presenter Chris Packham slammed Ceredigion County Council earlier this week for the decision to shoot Lillith the lynx.
Borth Wild Animal Kingdom issued a statement on Monday detailing the circumstances surrounding the demise of Nilly, an adult female lynx.
Writing on its Facebook page, the park, which was already being investigated over Lillith’s escape, confirmed Nilly’s death with “deep sadness and regret” and said while the two animals were not related, they had shared an enclosure.
Nilly, the park wrote, was killed while a handler was trying to move her to a more “suitable enclosure”, following pressure from authorities.
“Over the past few weeks our staff have been under incredible pressure and when the authorities gave us 24-hour notice that they would be carrying out a full cat inspection we took the decision to move Nilly to a more suitable enclosure.
“Unfortunately, there seems to have been a terrible handling error where it seems she twisted in the catch-pole and became asphyxiated.”
The park said an internal investigation is underway and a “key member of staff has been unable to work since the ordeal as they are truly devastated by what has happened”.
It said authorities were notified after the incident occurred.
The park said that plans are in place to build a new enclosure on the hill for the lynx “which will give them all the individual space that they need”.
The Facebook post continued: “This summer we have been working hard to make vast improvements, but it does seem to be that we are swimming against the tide. There are many serious issues with this establishment that need to be addressed before we go forward.
“Hopefully we can work with the authorities to bring this place up to code and create a home for these animals that is safe and secure.”
A petition has been launched by The Lynx UK Trust to shut down Borth Zoo, gaining more than 7,000 signatures by Tuesday lunchtime.
The petition reads:
“Most “hobby zoos” like Borth, run by inexperienced owners, do not provide any benefit to conservation or education, fail to meet basic animal welfare standards, and create a significant threat to the public as unpredictable, captive-bred, human-habituated animals are left to escape.
“The Lynx UK Trust are campaigning for the closure of Borth Zoo and have offered a new home for their lynx at a remote rescue centre in Wales where they will be cared for by experts in wild felines.
“Please sign this petition supporting the closure of Borth and rehoming of it’s animals to competent zoos and rescue centres; the local council (Ceredigion County Council) have the power to instantly remove their operating license creating a better future for their animals and a safer environment for the people who live in the region.”