Sunday, January 31, 2010

Young Lions to Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

Lion cubs to join controversial zoo in Wraxall

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, which is being investigated for animal cruelty, is to take delivery of three new baby lion cubs.

The male cubs, aged eight-and-a-half months, will be arriving at the zoo in Wraxall next week.

The cubs, from Linton Zoo near Cambridge, are brothers and were born in May last year.

They will live in the £200,000 tiger enclosure that opened at the zoo farm last summer and has now been renamed the Big Cat Sanctuary.

The farm confirmed this week they will also be keeping Tanvir the tiger, who was originally given on loan to the farm by Linctrek Ltd, a private breeding centre that provides trained animals for use in film, collections and TV.

Tanvir, along with other tigers Tira and Kushjka, arrived at the farm last summer on loan to the zoo from Martin Lacey, who is a director of Linctrek Ltd and also owns the Great British Circus.

Tira died in August from terminal cancer after giving birth to three cubs, all of which subsequently died, and was replaced by Khan, who also came from Linctrek. Although the tigers proved to be a hit with visitors, the farm came under fire following an undercover investigation by the Captive Animals Protection Society (Caps).

An undercover female investigator for Caps, who worked at the zoo for eight weeks last summer, claimed to have witnessed three acts of animal cruelty involving rabbits and mice.

She also claimed to have discovered that the zoo was breeding animals to be used in the Great British Circus and that the zoo farm was in breach of animal disposal regulations following the death of female Bengal tiger Tira.

Caps claim that Tira had her head and paws cut off, her skin removed and her body buried in the zoo grounds.

Farm owners Anthony and Christina Bush denied any direct link to the circus, although they admitted breaching animal disposal regulations and rectified the matter immediately.

Caps handed its findings to North Somerset Council, which is responsible for licensing the zoo farm, and an investigation is continuing.

Mr Bush, 70, said: "The allegations are preposterous lies from an extreme animal rights group and I'm astonished that the council is taking such a long time to look into the matter.

"We have assisted the council at every step and will continue to do so until this matter is resolved."

Both Kushjka and Khan will be returned to Linctrek over the coming weeks, but a new non-breeding female tiger is due to take their place. The new tiger is being given permanently to the zoo by Mr Lacey to live out her retirement.

The lion cubs will be kept in a separate part of the enclosure from both tigers, but will be on view to visitors to the farm.

A spokesman for Noah's Ark Zoo Farm said: "We are very excited about welcoming the lion cubs to the Big Cat Sanctuary.

"We are looking forward to finding out about their characters.

"Any animals which arrive at the farm from now on will be surplus animals who have been donated because

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