ANIMALS that have a ‘celebrity’ status at Edinburgh Zoo are being linked to the cause of deteriorating enclosures, a report has found.
Inspectors at the zoo found that while exotic animals like pandas and koalas attract stars like Nicole Kidman the other animals are being shunned from the limelight.
This is causing problems not just with their popularity but with the conditions they are being kept.
According to the inspection the £250,000 panda enclosure that has bullet-proof glass was described as “excellent” but other areas like the flamingo house with “rotting fascia boards” are in need of repair.
Other areas that were “deteriorating” include the viewing overhang at the big cats enclosure.
Assessments even found that there were two unsafe sections of the zoo that were easily accessible to the public – the penguin pool and disused herbivore pen.
The penguin pool is currently being refurbished at a cost of £750,000.
Zoo bosses now claim to have started making the relevant changes to zoo and should be completed by the end of the month.
The report was conducted by Edinburgh City Council as part of a review of the attraction’s license.
It concluded: “The collection is saddled with a lot of older buildings which are deteriorating and in need of maintenance or replacement.
“While these usually do not represent a danger to animals, staff or the public they tend to detract from the visit experience and are in danger of being neglected in favour of new exhibits.”
It also found that in some cases there were only “satisfactory” measures in place to keep animals secure – including some instances where pens were only secured by a padlock.
In the last year there have been a number of escaped animals including a baboon, an ibis and even a 95 stone Heck bull.
The zoo was recommended to conduct “biosecurity” checks after office material was found in the food storage room.
Other suggestions made by the inspectors were for better accommodation facilities for the animals in the Discovery Centre and Brilliant Birds exhibit.
Darren Parry, head of animals at the zoo, said: “The inspectors were extremely complimentary about the zoo and work of the society and very happy with new additions like the panda enclosure.”
Another zoo official said: “Two areas under maintenance were unfortunately accessible to members of the public briefly on the day of the inspection due to external contractor error – this was immediately rectified.
“The recommendations made regarding food storage, preparation and delivery were made on the same day also – essentially keepers were asked not to keep paperwork in the same room.
“We have a planned programme of revamping older enclosures as is evident by the extensive refurbishment and development of our penguin pool.”
It has been recommended that the zoo has their license renewed although it is still to be reviewed by a committee later this month.