The ‘hobby zoo’ which shot a lynx after it escaped faces losing its license as council chiefs blame the owners for failing to catch it.
An 18-month-old Eurasian lynx named Lillith escaped from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom in Wales on October 29 and was shot dead by a sniper the zoo employed last Friday.
Today the local council said the blame for the animal’s death lay solely at the feet of the owners of the hobby zoo, Dean and Tracy Tweedy.
The second lynx, a five-year-old female called Nilly, was killed during attempts to move it from its enclosure last week – while Lillith was still on the run, the Lynx UK Trust says
Owners Tracy and Dean Tweedy said in a statement Nilly died while moving her from an unsuitable enclosure before a council inspection
A spokesman for the council said: ‘The council wishes to make it clear that the recapture of the animal was the responsibility of Borth Wild Animal Kingdom.
‘The council and Dyfed-Powys Police offered as much assistance as possible but the owners were specifically responsible for the recapture.
‘Their failure to capture the escaped lynx in reasonable time meant that decisive action had to be taken to protect the public.’
Dean and Tracy Tweedy lamented the decision to kill 18 month old Lillith after the incident, saying that they were ‘devastated and outraged’.
Mrs Tweedy, 47, said: ‘I am angry – there is nothing humane about shooting a defenceless creature.’
Nilly (pictured) was strangled to death at Borth Zoo but one of the keepers last week but news of her death has only just emerged
Dean and Tracy Tweedy left their house in Kent to start a new life in Wales where they now share a home with snakes, lions and crocodiles, as well as their three daughters Paige (left), Sarah (second left) and Sophie (second right)
Following yesterday’s revelations about the death of a second lynx, Nilly, she said the zoo would remain closed ‘until further notice’.
Ceredigion council have formally begun an investigation into how Lillith escaped from the zoo, as well as how another lynx named Nilly was killed by zoo staff during the search.
One staff member at the zoo confirmed council investigators were conducting an inspection at the zoo this afternoon.
A source at the council admitted it isn’t known how long the investigation will take.
Dr Paul O’Donoghue, chief scientific advisor to the Trust, hit out at ‘incompetence and ineptitude’ at the zoo.
The trust also claims that Lillith was in a cage with five other lynx before her escape – and went on the run after being attacked by another big cat.
She allegedly used a tree that the zoo had failed to cut back to escape the enclosure and zoo keepers with ‘no experience’ were sent after her.
Before she escaped: Lillith the lynx was gunned down by a marksman on Friday
Mr Tweedy (right) is facing calls to close his zoo following two scandals which have rocked the enclosure in the past few weeks
A petition now has more than 900 signatures backing calls for Borth Wild Animal Kingdom – owned by Mr Tweedy (far right) – to be closed down
Lynx UK Trust say that incompetence at the zoo and local Ceredigion County Council is wholly to blame for the death of Lillith and the second lynx.
It is now calling for the closure of ‘hobby zoos’ after revealing the lynx death cover up.
Dr O’Donoghue said: ‘The levels of incompetence and ineptitude are mind-blowing.
‘Ceredigion County Council, who allowed this zoo to operate, are equally to blame.
‘UK hobby zoos are a disaster waiting to happen, if they aren’t closed down I am in no doubt that eventually someone will be killed by an escaped and unpredictable captive-bred animal, Borth and other zoos like it must be closed down before someone gets killed.’
In a remorseful statement posted on the zoo’s Facebook page, Mr and Mrs Tweedy wrote that Nilly, the Eurasian lynx, was accidentally strangled to death with a catch-pole while an ‘under pressure’ member of staff was trying to catch her.
Their statement said: ‘It is with deep sadness and regret we announce the demise last week of Nilly, an adult female lynx, who was unrelated to Lillith but shared an enclosure.
‘Over the past few weeks our staff have been under incredible pressure and when the authorities gave us 24-hour notice that they would be carrying out a full cat inspection we took the decision to move Nilly to a more suitable enclosure.
‘Unfortunately, there seems to have been a terrible handling error where it seems she twisted in the catch-pole and became asphyxiated.
Photo issued by the Farmers’ Union of Wales of seven dead sheep who were believed to have been killed by an escaped lynx
Mrs Tweedy said she would be consulting her solicitor today after the council brought in marksman Andrew Venables (pictured) who runs a local firearms training school to kill Lillith
Mr Venables, pictured, told MailOnline that his company had previously trained staff at the wildlife park in the humane use of firearms
Co-owner of the zoo Dean Tweedy, pictured right, was pictured looking for Lillith when she escaped from the attraction two weeks ago
‘The authorities were notified after the incident and will be carrying out their own full investigation.’
The couple said there had been ‘serious issues’ with how animals were housed at the zoo when they took it over six months ago.
The statement added: ‘The zoo is now closed and will remain closed until further notice. This summer we have been working hard to make vast improvements, but it does seem to be that we are swimming against the tide.
‘There are many serious issues with this establishment that need to be addressed before we go forward. Hopefully we can work with the authorities to bring this place up to code and create a home for these animals that is safe and secure.
‘This is the only zoo in the county of Ceredigion and it would be a real loss to the area if this much-loved home for rescued exotic animals was not allowed to continue after refurbishment.
‘We bought this place not to make money, but because we are animal lovers and could see that this place in this beautiful location needed some serious love and attention.’
The lynx was spotted sleeping in a closed caravan park a mile from Wild Animal Kingdom, pictured, where it escaped by leaping over an electrified fence
This cage is where the lynx was kept along with four others before it escaped
After meeting Mr Tweedy for himself, Paul O’Donoghue said he felt ‘sorry and angry’ for the owner, who only bought the zoo earlier this year
Dean Tweedy bought the Welsh farm for £625,000 earlier this year
Lillith was dubbed the ‘Beast of Borth’ after escaping from her cage by making a ‘giant leap’ over an electrified fence
A Ceredigion Council spokesman said with ‘deep regret’ that the animal had been humanely destroyed
Zoo staff member Kirsten Arnold is pictured searching for the lynx in the days before it was killed