RSPCA ends probe at 'improved' South Lakes Safari Zoo

Sarah McClay Image copyright Stephen McClay
Image caption Keep Sarah McClay was mauled to death when a Sumatran tiger got through an unlocked gate

The RSPCA has closed an investigation into a troubled zoo where hundreds of animals and a keeper died.

In 2013, keeper Sarah McClay was killed by a tiger at South Lakes Safari Zoo and last year a council report revealed 486 animals had died in four years.

In a statement the charity said its decision was based on changes to the zoo's management and better conditions.

The Zoo's website said it had "made changes" for the better and continued to improve.

Image caption Rhino dung near a fence was a cause for concern in recent years

In March last year, Barrow Council refused to renew the zoo's licence after inspectors raised concerns about the zoo's founder, David Gill.

The Dalton-on-Furness site was taken over by Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd (CZCL) and the RSPCA said improvements had been made.

Government inspectors had previously highlighted concerns of poor management and "inadequate" veterinary care.

Ms McClay, originally of Glasgow, was mauled to death by a tiger in 2013 - leading to a £297,500 fine for the zoo over health and safety breaches.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Zoo founder David Gill has stepped down from management, the RSPCA said

The RSPCA statement said: "In light of changes made in the zoo in terms of management and the efforts being made to improve conditions, we have decided to draw this investigation to a close.

"Since the zoo has been under new management some changes have been introduced to improve the welfare of animals and we hope they continue to improve standards for all the animals."

Their previous report noted that the zoo had a catalogue of problems.

Safety fears over the condition of aerial walkways were highlighted in 2016, and there was also concern that baboons could escape by scaling a pile of rhino dung.

This led to an announcement by the zoo that it would be closing temporarily, although this decision was later reversed.

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