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Pets and their people: INVESTIGATION: DAMNED!; Fight to end zoo animals' plight.

Byline: NICK WEBSTER

THE People today exposes the appalling conditions suffered by animals at a major British zoo - and demands it is closed NOW.

Undercover investigators found lions, tigers, monkeys and a rhino stressed out in woefully cramped and squalid enclosures.

And they were shocked to discover rusting cages, rotting buildings and piles of junk at rundown Glasgow Zoo.

Les Ward, director of Advocates For Animals, which is calling for the zoo's closure, said: "We believe it poses a health and safety hazard to animals."

A damning 20-page report by the group's investigators claims:

ANIMALS are in danger because of inadequate fencing.

LIONS Leo and Cleo - brother and sister - were allowed to mate and produce three cubs, even though such breeding can lead to abnormalities and does not happen in the wild.

A BARBARY sheep was left with painfully overgrown hooves.

ASIATIC black bears are huddled in small winter quarters because their outdoor enclosure is too rickety.

TWO garter snakes and a corn snake escaped from the reptile house because of lax security.

Advocates For Animals launched the probe after complaints from visitors. Independent investigator Samantha Scott, a vet and animal behaviourist who holds posts at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities, condemned the tigers' enclosure as pitifully small.

Miss Scott said: "There is nowhere for these animals to get away from the public gaze. They are in a state of constant conflict and very stressed."

The vet also warned of serious safety problems. Miss Scott said: "It would have taken no effort at all to jump the fence into the rhino enclosure or to approach the bars of the lions' cage.

"Most of the fencing is completely inadequate plastic covered chain link."

World-respected animal charity the Born Free Foundation carried out its own investigation. PR director Shirley Galligan said: "The zoo is operating below acceptable standards, there are animal welfare concerns as well as maintenance and health and safety matters.

"The authorities responsible for the zoo should consider all options legally available to them including compassionate and structured closure."

Bosses of the zoo - funded by a charitable trust run by Glasgow Zoological Society - last week admitted it is struggling because of a cash crisis.

But they are hoping for a financial rescue deal and plan a new zoo.

A spokeswoman said: "It looks run down but the animals are well looked after. The tiger has given birth in full public view. That would not happen if it was stressed."

YOU can help by writing to the address below. We will pass all your letters to Glasgow City Council who license the zoo.

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Peeling paint in the monkey enclosure TRAPPEDA lion stares bleakly out of its bars at the rundown zoo
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Oct 27, 2002
Words:451
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