DEDICATED zookeepers have battled to save their much-loved zoo from a severe flood.

Staff at Milnthorpe’s Wildlife Oasis are struggling to keep their heads above water following last week’s record rainfall.

With groundwater levels rising after the deluge, the zoo’s car park, woodlands and all outdoor enclosures were under two feet of floodwater.

Despite having built flood defences following Storm Desmond in December 2015, and due to financial costs, the zoo was not ready to fight against another spate of bad weather.

What was especially demoralising for the team was seeing the brand new walls of the recently renovated ‘miniature monkey’ exhibit sodden with rising floodwater.

Zoo founder Jo Marsden described the incident as a slow-motion car crash.

“This is absolutely heart breaking,” she said.

“We never had any flooding in our first 20 years but climate change is now causing so many freak weather events.

“It’s like a slow-motion car crash, you see it happening but you’re just waiting to see how bad the damage will be.”

Mrs Marsden believed the pipe, which goes underneath the A6, has not been draining the water and this has led to the flooding of the zoo.

“Storm Desmond was horrific but the water drained, and we could carry on with our work.

“But this time the water isn’t going anywhere and the rainfall we’ve had was nowhere near as bad as 2015.

“It’s got to be this pipe and we’ve contacted Cumbria Highways but it’s been a week and nothing has been done. It’s just appalling.”

A spokesperson from Cumbria County Council said officers were engaged to help identify a solution.

“The culvert under the nearby A6 is not considered to be a contributing factor – as the water on the land both sides of the A6 is higher than the culvert.

“Officers have been to visit the site today (Wednesday) and continue to liaise with the owners and other partners, including the Environment Agency to seek a long-term solution.”

The zoo is raising vital funds to try to prevent future flooding by raising visitor paths and animal facilities.

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