SOUTH Lakes Safari Zoo is set to have new land owners by Christmas after an offer was accepted to purchase the site.

The land which houses South Lakes Safari Zoo in Dalton has sold to another northern zoo, The Mail can reveal, after it was put on the market two months ago.

The site went up for sale after the zoo's land owner, David Gill's company went into administration in 2018.

The day-to-day operation of the zoo, which is run by Cumbria Zoo Company Limited, remains unaffected by the sale.

The zoo placed their own offer for the land but were outbid by another zoo this week.

South Lakes Safari Zoo's chief executive officer, Karen Brewer, said the team was 'extremely disappointed' with the news.

She said: "In this current climate when zoos are crying out for money and help and may not make it through the winter - it was a real blow for us.

"We picked a bid that we knew wasn’t the highest but it was a cash bid. We wanted to make sure we could make it through the winter.

"When we heard another zoo was even interested in coming and having a look, even for investment reason, we knew we'd likely lose out on the bid.

"The news is extremely disappointing. For another zoo to come in and swoop the sale from us doesn’t sit well.

"Owning the land would've secured our future and would've been really nice after everything we’ve been through,.

"Owning the land was the final piece of the jigsaw.

"However at the end of the day, they’re just our land lords and we'll just be writing a different name on the cheque.

"We're not going anywhere, we have a fantastic team of managers with big plans in the works.

"And we have security on the land for at least the next 14 years."

Ms Brewer said the zoo has 'massive developments' coming in the future, despite being hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We always have animals and education in our focus," she said.

"The new meerkat area is about ready to open, there's a new aviary, we have squirrel monkeys moving in, a redevelopment happening in the Madagascar Lima area and with the bears and kangaroos, and we have new animals arriving which is all set to be completed by Spring.

"It's been really hard for any business. We're not like a cafe or shop, we have to have staff in to feed the animals and look after them. We've had no support from the Government - it's been tough.

"But we want people in when the lockdown is lifted. Animals love to see the visitors and so do the staff - we're really hoping to be back open on December 3.

"We're not sure how the winter months will pan out but we feel very strongly attached to the community.

"We know that the whole community has come through it and if we have to be shut for month or too longer we will as its for the greater good of the community."