Windsor Safari Park closes but seeks a saviour

WINDSOR Safari Park closed yesterday with its 600 animals and 140 staff facing an unknown future.

If no new owner can be found to take on the park as a going concern then the animals will have to be dispersed to zoos in Britain and around the world - a difficult task which could take a year.

Chris Barlow, of receivers Cork Gully, who has been in charge of the park since January, said: 'It is no part of our strategy now or in the future to destroy animals.

'It is possible that very, very old or seriously ill animals, under veterinary advice, may have to be the subject of euthanasia.'

The park had been due to close next Sunday, but this was brought forward to yesterday after the receivers learnt that a Sunday newspaper was planning to announce the closure and report that it could become Britain's first Legoland - without any animals.

There were fears that animal liberationists could enter the park as paying visitors and stage a publicity stunt, or even try to rescue some animals in the belief that they were due to be destroyed. Police advice was sought.

The 144 acre (58ha) site in Windsor Great Park, which opened in 1970, went into receivership along with its owners, Themes International, which owed about pounds 40m.

It normally shuts for winter, but unless a buyer takes it on as a going concern it will not reopen next year.

Mr Barlow said if the animals had to be dispersed none would go to circuses or animal dealers and family groups would be kept together. The process would be vetted by 'an independent group of experts' whose chairman he declined to name.

The menagerie includes 34 lions, seven elephants, 45 baboons, seven tigers, 13 wolves and eight dolphins. The latter will have to be found new homes in any case because the receivers are not willing to spend the pounds 1m needed to bring the dolphin pools up to the standards demanded by new legislation.

Mr Barlow refused to be drawn on who might buy the park, but said discussions were continuing with several parties. The Danish toy giant Lego said it had been looking for a site for a second Legoland tourist attraction for some time, but would not say whether it had any interest in Windsor.

Visitor numbers at the safari park fell this year and the recession is making the task of selling the attraction harder. Themes International had spent about pounds 11m on upgrading the park and turning it into an 'African Experience' since buying it in 1988.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent