Further concerns raised about South Lakes Safari Zoo

17 January 2023


Following Born Free’s inspection in October 2022, a new investigation and fresh public concerns highlight continuing issues at troubled zoo in Cumbria.

A new investigation has revealed that a number of the issues identified by Born Free during its inspection of South Lakes Safari Zoo, on the 17th October 2022, are yet to be rectified by the zoo or Barrow Council. 

Animal welfare issues such as overgrown giraffe hooves, overcrowding and lack of drainage in the zoo’s Africa House, insufficient heating in a number of enclosures, and lack of enrichment potentially resulting in zoochosis (abnormal repetitive behaviours) in some animals were all reportedly witnessed two months after first being highlighted and brought to the zoo and Barrow Council’s attention by Born Free.

Since Born Free’s inspection in October, we have received a further ten complaints through our Raise the Red Flag campaign from members of the public about the zoo and the welfare of the animals housed there. These include the use of fireworks which were not ‘bangless’, as advertised by the zoo, at its ‘Bonfire Night Bonanza’ in November 2022. Despite highlighting the impacts that such events can have on the welfare of zoo, domestic and native wild animals, it is incredibly troubling that this latest investigation, conducted by Freedom for Animals, has revealed that the zoo has once again set off fireworks, accompanied by loud music, at its December festive events in close proximity to its Africa House, housing its giraffe, zebra and rhino – including a newborn calf.

Furthermore, the outcomes of the Special Inspection undertaken by Barrow Council, in November 2022, into the alleged animal welfare failings at the zoo, which were due to be revealed at a Licensing Committee meeting on the 19th of January, have now been delayed until February or March after the original meeting was cancelled.

Chris Lewis, Captivity Research Officer, stated, “Knowing full well the noise that these firework displays generated in November, zoo management has once again put financial gain ahead of their duty of care for their animals. In light of this and the numerous ongoing and unrectified animal welfare issues, we call on Barrow Council to publish the results of their inspection without further delay. Necessary corrective measures must be urgently implemented and enforced to safeguard the welfare of the animals held at the facility.”

Born Free first investigated South Lakes Safari Zoo because of the reports we received from members of the public through our Raise the Red Flag campaign. The reports we receive can play a vital role in identifying, investigating and exposing possible captive animal exploitation. You can help too by visiting www.bornfree.org.uk/raise-the-red-flag.