Zoo criticised after second lynx dies in ‘terrible handling error’
Lillith, who had been missing from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom near Aberystwyth, was killed after specialist veterinary advice.
A zoo is facing calls to close after it emerged that a second lynx was accidentally asphyxiated within days of the shooting and killing of Lillith the lynx, who escaped from her enclosure at the seaside attraction.
Borth Wild Animal Kingdom near Aberyswyth, west Wales, has been criticised for having “no understanding of wild animal behaviour or welfare needs” by the Lynx UK Trust, who said a second cat had died after keepers at the zoo tried to move it to another enclosure using a dog noose.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the zoo confirmed that Nilly, an adult female who was unrelated to Lillith but shared an enclosure with her, had died after the decision was taken to move the animal to “a more suitable enclosure” when they were give 24 hours’ notice of an inspection.
Borth Wild Animal Kingdom said: “Unfortunately, there seems to have been a terrible handling error where it seems she twisted in the catch-pole and became asphyxiated.
“An internal investigation is under way, and a key member of staff has been unable to work since the ordeal as they are truly devastated by what has happened.”
Lillith, an 18-month-old Eurasian lynx and twice the size of a domestic cat, was killed on Friday night after the local authority received advice from a specialist veterinary surgeon that the risk to public well-being had increased from moderate to severe.
Park staff said that the animal, which had been missing since since October 29, did not pose a threat to humans and were “devastated and outraged” by her death.
The trust, which campaigns for the re-introduction of lynx into the wild in the UK, said it had been investigating the circumstances surrounding the escape and shooting of Lillith when it was informed that the second lynx had died.
Chief scientific adviser to the trust Dr Paul O’Donoghue said he visited the zoo and had the sequence of events explained to him.
He said: “What if it had been Borth’s crocodile that escaped? Or their two lions? Their leopard almost escaped a few years ago when its cage door was left open; how long are we going to let these hobby zoos run by amateurs keep operating? Will it take the death of a human for someone to take action?”
Dean and Tracy Tweedy took over Borth Wild Animal Kingdom less than six months ago.
In their statement they said they knew that there were serious issues with how some of the animals were housed and had been working hard to make “vast improvements”.
They said the zoo was now closed and would remain so until further notice, adding: “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.”
The revelation came after the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) said the shooting and killing of Lillith “was long overdue” given the danger to people and livestock.
In an ideal world the #lynx would have been quickly recaptured, but this did not happen. Given the risk to people and livestock, action to remove such a danger was long overdue.— FUW_UAC (@FUW_UAC) November 13, 2017
Releasing a picture of seven sheep believed to have been killed by Lillith, the FUW defended Ceredigion Council’s decision that she should be killed after she “strayed over to a populated area of the community”.
“In an ideal world the lynx would have been quickly recaptured, but this did not happen,” a spokesman for the FUW said. “Given the risk to people and livestock, action to remove such a danger was long overdue.
“Had the animal not been allowed to escape in the first place, this situation would not have arisen, and it seems a number of our members’ livestock would not have been attacked and killed.”
Mrs Tweedy she thought it was “highly unlikely” that Lillith had killed the sheep.
She said she understood that a post-mortem examination had been carried out on one of the sheep and that the results were inconclusive, with the results of blood tests yet to come back, and that for Lillith to have killed the sheep, she would have had to have done so very shortly after her escape, having no experience hunting larger prey.