A zoo in Wales has been struggling to stay afloat as the COVID-19 lockdown forced them to close their gates. The Borth Wild Animal Kingdom in Ceredigion has been facing problems since the Tweedy family bought it in 2016. Owners Tracy Tweedy and Dean Tweedy claim that the closure of the zoo without government relief has drained their finances. If the government does not offer relief funds, they would be forced to find new homes for some animals and put down the rest.
The zoo, which the BBC covered on their show “Saving Britain’s Worst Zoo” is once again threatening the lives of their animals. The family-owned zoo in west Wales has had its share of negative attention. In January this year, the local council forced the Tweedy family to shut down the zoo. They were forced to do so as they had not hired a trained gun-man for the safety of the zoo visitors.
In February, the zoo was allowed to re-open as the family claimed that without guests, they would not be able to sustain the animals. Most of the zoo, except the lion enclosures, were allowed to be open to the public. However, the zoo did not manage to earn much this year as they had to again shut down in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The zoo requires £3,000 a week for the upkeep of the animals. The owners confirmed that they had received a £25,000 business relief grant which had already dwindled. Speaking to Wales Online, Tracy revealed that the Easter weekend is when the zoo secures a large portion of their annual income.
Tracy pointed out that when a zoo cannot maintain their animals, they try to get them re-homed. However, with the novel coronavirus pandemic, all zoos are struggling to care for their animals. Tracy believes that if the funds run out, very few animals will end up re-homed. The animals which will not re-homed will have to be put down. Tracy stated that in England, a special fund has been set aside for zoos which is absent in Wales.
In 2017, the Borth zoo faced criticism when Lilleth the Eurasian lynx escaped. She had to be shot down at a caravan site. In 2018, another lynx named Nilly died at the zoo and the cause of death was cited as “handling error.” The zoo was banned from keeping dangerous animals but the owners were given six months to find a qualified manager. In January 2019, the zoo was asked to shut down dangerous enclosures for the safety of the guests. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the woes of the zoo owners as well as the animals.