Shepherds Farm Place near Doncaster fails to get zoo licence after inspector said the site fell 'far short' of standards

The owner of an animal sanctuary near Doncaster has a lot of work to do to get a license after inspectors said the site fell “far short” of standards.

Shepherds Farm Place in Haxey

Keith Phillips’ application for a zoo license for Shepherds Farm Place in Haxey was rejected by North Lincolnshire’s licensing committee on Wednesday.

The business, originally designed to keep rare breed farm animals, has been going since 2012, however, over the past year has added an increasing number of species to the collection.

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Mr Phillips was required to apply for the license if he wanted to remain open to the public.

A pre-license inspection report by a vet and two licensing officers said the “small collection falls far short” of the license requirements.

Dr Matthew Brash, who carried out the inspection, told the committee: “In the case of this zoo, unfortunately, I was not in a position to feel that they were going to comply.”

He said none of the five requirements of conservation, research, training, exchange of information or breeding had been met.

Other concerns included “markedly substandard” accommodation, overstocked paddocks, poor diets and poor levels of husbandry and “a lot of work” needed on the business’ perimeter fence.

While noting the impact of Covid-19, the inspector was worried there were no plans for how enclosures would be upgraded and had concerns over a planned new “tropical hot-house” planned to keep butterflies.

“The money was not being put towards improving the enclosures he had already,” said Mr Brash.

“At the end of my inspection, I sat down and informed the applicant of what was likely to be in my report and my suggestions to him were to go away and think very hard, as to whether he really wished to be a zoo,” he added.

“If he did wish to be a zoo, he needed to put in place some significant changes before reapplying, which is entirely his right.”

Rejecting the application, councillors said they had “serious concerns” that Mr Phillips did not understand the requirements for running a zoo and did not have the ability to look after the welfare of the animals.

He “did not provide any confidence that he would implement measures to meet the requirements and standards of running a zoo”, they said.

Mr Phillips did not attend the meeting though officers said they had made multiple attempts to invite him.

However, in his application, he said: “Having been founded with the intention to be a place of education and inspiration for future industry professionals and the general public alike, moving forward, we would like to focus on taking in surplus and largely non-breeding/ over genetically represented individuals from within the zoological community.

“Although we will have aims of the types of species we would like, we also intend to remain open to other species which would work within our space requirements/limitations, with a focus on endangered species wherever possible.”

A five year plan included a number of improvements including a greenhouse, updates to existing closures and housing for new animals, including exotic “flagship” mammals including red pandas and parrot and macaw species.

Signage for the animals would include interactive QR codes, as well as public talks being used to help educate the public on the animals.

The farm opens 10am-4pm and has been visited by around 10,500 people over the past three years. On Facebook, the business says it hopes to reopen on May 17.