Vets were called in to investigate Borth Wild Animal Kingdom in Aberystwyth, west Wales, after the big cat broke free in 2017 before it was eventually shot dead in a caravan park.
Monkeys, crocodiles and a leopard were among the animals to have died from the zoo’s stock during 2018, it was found.
A stock list compiled by the Ceredigion council revealed that 57 of its 305 animals died – including wallabies, an emu and ibises.
But the zoo say that the death rate should not raise concerns because many of the animals it took in were ageing, vulnerable or suffering from health difficulties.
Owner Tracy Tweedy, who bought the zoo with her husband Dean, said: ‘The numbers are not a true reflection of what it was like. Many of the animals were old and not in good health when we got them.
‘That’s why we got these animals in the first place. We wanted to help them.’
The list of dead animals also included five marginated tortoises, seven primates, five parakeets, two meerkats, one caiman crocodiles, seven African giant snails and five stick insects.
Tracy also said a rogue keeper was to blame for many of the couple’s issues, claiming he set out to sabotage their management of the zoo with the view of stealing their animals.
Borth was ordered to close in January of this year because it did not have trained gunmen in case of an animal escape.
It was allowed to reopen in February but has now closed again due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Tracy added: ‘It’s going to be a hard time for us but we can’t risk our staff getting ill because then we would have no one to care for the animals.’
Campaigners have called for the zoo’s closure after charity Freedom for Animals obtained the death figures from a Freedom of Information request.
A charity spokesman said: ‘Borth Wild Animal Kingdom has repeatedly failed to meet its legal requirements to keep wild animals and has put the welfare of animals and the public at risk. It’s time Borth zoo was shut down permanently.’
This article was first published by The Mail Online on 23 March 2020.
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