Lynx forced out in council cash snub; ATTRACTION: No funding for new pounds 50,000 enclosure means cats must go.
A POPULAR animal centre funded by Birmingham City Council is being forced to rehouse some of its star attractions after being snubbed by the authority.
A pack of lynx cats is now due to be shipped out of Birmingham Nature Centre after the council refused to stump up the cash for a new pounds 50,000 enclosure.
The decision left the centre's supporters dumbfounded because the authority directly funds the muchloved family attraction to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds a year.
Campaigner Rachel Duggan, who launched a petition demanding better conditions for the lynx, accused the council of "tying itself up in knots" over the issue.
She said: "How can the council fund the centre with one hand, but deny it vital money with the other?
"This is disgusting. I can't see where it has spent much money on the place in the last few years.
"The centre is very popular and the staff do a great job, but this is the wrong way to go."
Five lynx live at the Edgbaston-based centre. They have been housed in a converted former owl enclosure since their old pen was taken down for health and safety reasons last year.
But Ms Duggan, a 29-year-old South Birmingham College art and basic skills teacher, said her petition had garnered hundreds of names because of the "unhygienic" standard of accommodation.
It is understood two of the older animals may be kept at the centre and the three younger cats packed off to zoos while alternative sources of funding are examined, although there are no guarantees they will return.
Centre manager Les Basford would not comment.
Birmingham City Council would not say how much it spent on the centre annually but a spokeswoman confirmed the pounds 50,000 sought represented a "significant proportion" of the total sum.
"Last year we took down the lynx pen," she said. "Since then the animals have been housed in a temporary area while we looked at possible funding options to enable us to build them a new enclosure.
"Due to a recent unsuccessful bid for funding, we will now be looking to rehouse the lynx in the near future.
"While this is regrettable, animal welfare has to be our primary concern."
ON THE MOVE... two of the lynx take a break in the spring sunshine. Picture: Neil Pugh Photo ref: NP100408Lynx-1; 'UNHYGIENIC'... for the temporary enclosure. Picture: Iain Findlay Photo ref: IF090408nature-05