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Family zoo saved from closure after debt paid off.

Byline: AGENCY REPORTER newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

AFAMILY zoo where two lynx died has been saved from closure - after the owners found PS40,000 to keep it open.

Dean and Tracy Tweedy bought the zoo as a dream move after leaving their comfortable life in Kent. But just 15 months later their dream started to collapse.

The zoo lost its licence for keeping dangerous animals after two lynx died - leading to the loss of its biggest attractions.

Animals including an emu and a squirrel monkey also died in unexplained circumstances at Borth Wild Animal Kingdom near Aberystwyth.

But creditors then demanded the couple pay up PS350,000 debts - and took the couple to court for the money.

Dean, 49, and Tracy, 48, have now agreed to pay about PS40,000 debts following a hearing at London High Court.

Eighteen-month-old lynx Lillith was shot dead after escaping from her enclosure in October last year and sparking a 12-day search.

She was shot by a marksman at a caravan park over fears that she could attack children.

Dean, a mural painter, said: "We could see there was a lot of work to do, but we had taken on run-down properties. We were prepared for all of that. We just weren't prepared for the lynx escape.

"We just thought, 'What do we do now? How do you catch a lynx?'. We got a call at about 2am to say, 'You can stand down now - we've shot your cat'.

"It was devastating. We'd spent 10 days not sleeping. Our world began to collapse at about that point."

A second lynx was later found to have been accidentally strangled by staff at the zoo.

The zoo was closed down and later allowed to reopen.

Dean said: "Due to the zoo's lengthy closure by the council following the lynx escape, we regrettably have experienced financial difficulties." The petition to wind up the zoo, whose website motto is "A little zoo with a big heart," was applied for earlier this summer by one of its creditors, financial leasing services Grenke Ltd, of Guildford, Surrey.

The animal-mad couple bought the zoo for PS625,000 and soon owned the home of 300 animals.

Tracy said: "I qualified as a psychotherapist and we wanted a small petting farm to do animal and people therapy.

"We looked around Kent and didn't find anything, so we took our search further across the country. I've always wanted to live in Wales so it was perfect. I was adamant from day one. I came and visited it with a friend and then convinced my family it was a good idea."

Along with six zookeepers, the pair run the facility with the help of their three youngest children, Paige, Sarah and Sophie.

Before the death of Lillith, the Tweedys had a hectic first summer at the zoo after moving in April last year.

Around 500 people would visit the site during the summer.

CAPTION(S):

<B Lillith the lynx

<B 150 locals turned up to help refurbish Borth Wild Animal Kingdom after two lynx died Dean Tweedy

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 21, 2018
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