Setback in campaign to save London Zoo

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The Independent Online
The campaign to save London Zoo has suffered a serious setback as its official closure date approaches.

The zoo is due to shut at the end of the month, but its management committee has dissociated itself from all publicity material produced by the London Zoo Survival Campaign, a broad-based group representing most of the zoo's staff and scientists.

The move followed the BBC Television Nature programme on 24 August, in which the campaigners were openly critical of the zoo's management. The decision meant that leaflets and stickers intended to be given out over the August bank holiday were not distributed.

The decision has exasperated staff at the zoo, particularly since it goes against the management stance of two weeks earlier, when it embraced the campaign and gave it an office and a budget. This followed a vote of no confidence in the management team by fellows of the Zoological Society of London, the zoo's parent body.

Staff are angry because they say they have been told not spend time on the campaign in working hours. They are also dismayed that the treasurer of the society, Peter Holwell, has taken three weeks holiday at a crucial time.

Jo Gipps, chief executive of the zoo, said: 'The consequence of this management committee decision is that a certain amount of literature will be wasted.' He said he regretted the situation, but refuted suggestions that the survival campaign had been banned altogether. He said he had contacted people who helped with the early material with a view to producing fresh literature.

Business plans for a viable zoo on the Regent's Park site must be handed to management by tomorrow, for consideration by the zoo's council on Monday.

Meanwhile, the zoo's management has balloted fellows of the society who were not present at the recent meeting urging them to overturn the no-confidence vote. The result is due on 14 September.