Plea to save park’s wild animals
The park has six Siberian tigers
Tigers, lions and other animals at a Devon wildlife park may have to be put down unless a buyer is found in the next 11 days.
Dartmoor Wildlife Park near Plymouth has been on the market for 18 months but attempts to keep it intact have come to nothing.
Owner Ellis Daw, 77, who has run the park for 38 years, is retiring.
He says the park will close on 23 April and if a buyer is not found, some unsold animals will have to die.
Those at risk include big cats – the park has six Siberian tigers and five lions – flamingos, pelicans, porcupines, three bears and a pack of wolves.
There’s no reason why the park shouldn’t carry on
The park cannot be kept open to the public because Mr Daw will be handing in his zoo licence.
Mr Daw said: "We have been working on it and we have had quite a bit of luck placing the great majority so far, although there are a few very old ones which we don’t quite know about."
Mr Daw said the park’s closure would certainly be the end of the line for Spar, the 17-year-old king of the tiger enclosure.
"The only way for him if we were to close would be to shoot him, really, because no one else would take him at his age."
He added: "There’s no reason why the park shouldn’t carry on. We get a lot of people here and we do a lot of education work. It should go on.
"With a bit of extra effort I think it can be pulled off."
Mr Daw, the owner of a successful timber firm, opened the park in 1968 on farmland his family bought after World War II.
His aim was to give animals space to roam, after being horrified by zoo conditions during childhood visits in the 1920s.
In 2002 Mr Daw was given a conditional discharge after he admitted breeding tigers illegally and housing them in unsuitable conditions.
South Hams District Council, which issues zoo licences, said it would be be talking to Mr Daw about rehoming the animals.
Ian Bollans, head of environmental health, said: "There is a fairly supportive industry out there.
"I don’t think there will be a problem, but our primary concern is to see the animals rehoused to permanent locations."
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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