Zoo gets all-clear at Flamingo Land

Mark Branagan FLAMINGO Land has been given a clean bill of health by inspectors following claims by a member of the public that the North Yorkshire zoo was not being run properly.

The area of the theme park containing the animals was due for inspection because its six year zoo licence only runs until June 4 and guidelines state checks need to be made no later than six months before the expiry date.

But this year's visit in July by Ryedale Council's licensing experts was made after a number of complaints were made by a member of the public.

Environmental health officers asked for the complaints to be put in writing and a copy was sent to each inspector so they could take the allegations into account.

Principal Environmental Health Officer Paul Crossley said: "Ryedale Council is not in a position to answer the detailed individual questions. The thrust of the complaints is about the issue of whether or not Flamingo Land Zoo complies with the Secretary of State's standards."

These related to modern zoo practice and covered issues such as animal welfare and conservation. But the inspectors found no grounds for refusing the renewal of the licence.

"As well as making recommendations to encourage further physical improvements at the zoo the inspectors commended the positive attitude of the management and the willingness of the operators to invest in upgraded animal facilities," Mr Crossley added.

"In addition, they noted the staff appear committed and enthusiastic and with continued development of educational programmes and greater conservation and research participation the zoo has the potential to be among the leading collections in the UK."

The inspection team did not think anything more than the standard conditions needed to be attached to the licence. Flamingo Land managers had read the report, accepted it, and had no observations to make, Mr Crossley continued.

The inspection team issued a statement saying: "The inspectors were sent a list of complaints on July 7 2006 made by a member of the public and these were considered alongside all other relevant matters before and during the inspection.

"Whilst accepting that input from the public can be useful in the zoo licensing process the inspectors found nothing in these particular complaints to substantially add or assist the Flamingo Land inspection."

n Extra security was installed at Flamingo Land after a chimpanzee escaped in December 2005 and had to be shot dead. The work was to eliminate handholds on steel doors and block rendering thought to have allowed the animal to swing onto overhead guttering.