WESTMORLAND and Furness Council says it will investigate concerns raised by an animal rights group about Dalton Zoo.

The council has been urged to remove the South Lakes Safari Zoo's licence by the group Freedom for Animals, which claims it has uncovered animal welfare issues at the site.

FFA said it uncovered issues following an 11-month undercover investigation at the zoo.

The council says a recent informal inspection did not reveal any major concerns but would investigate recent welfare issues raised.

A planned full inspection is due to take place soon.

A spokesman for Westmorland and Furness Council said: “We are aware of the concerns raised regarding South Lakes Safari Zoo. As the licensing authority, the council will investigate those concerns and seek advice from our zoo veterinary inspector on the animal welfare matters raised.

“The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 sets the protocol for the way zoos are licenced. 

"The council's remit is to apply this national legislation and ensure the zoo complies with the terms of its licence in accordance with the Act. Under the terms of the Act the council monitors and reviews the zoo’s operations through a regular regime of informal, periodical and special inspections."

The council said an informal inspection was conducted in December, focusing on the zoo’s information management system and veterinary provision, with 'no immediate matters to bring to the attention of the council’s Licensing Regulatory Committee'.

The spokesman added: “The council is due to carry out a periodical inspection in the next couple of months, the findings of which will be presented to the regulatory committee for consideration.

"This inspection will further look at all matters of the zoo operation, including animal welfare, husbandry, diets, accommodation, the environment and veterinary provision. The team for this inspection will include DEFRA-appointed inspectors.

“The report for the December informal inspection will be published on our website alongside the outcome of the periodical inspection as part of the documentation for the Licensing Regulatory Committee meeting.’’

Zoo bosses did not accept the findings of the activist group, which FFA said included a 'disturbing reality of animal injury, illness and death' as well as overcrowding and 'inadequate' veterinary care.

Cases mentioned included the drowning of a baby kangaroo in a lake within the kangaroo’s outdoor enclosure, a lemur with a broken arm and an emaciated meerkat with no available food or warm place to hide.