INSPECTORS have found “inappropriate breeding” and “overweight” animals at a popular theme park which has been banned from adding animals to its zoo for the second year in a row.
Tayto Park, near Ashbourne, Co Meath, was ordered not to introduce any new animals following an inspection by officials from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
The park, which was given three months to comply with new conditions on its licence, was previously restricted from adding animals to its collection for five months after a 2012 inspection that found “inadequate” enclosures and “high levels of aggression and stress among animals”.
That restriction was lifted after it complied with conditions including improving enclosures, staffing levels and training.
However, it has been re-imposed after an inspection on September 17, when NPWS officials expressed “great disappointment” at “a lack of consideration of the previous list of recommendations and conditions”.
Among other findings inspectors highlighted “inappropriate breeding” – though the species involved are not listed – and “overweight” racoons and fishing cats at the park.
On-site education facilities and conservation and research efforts were found not to be “appropriate and adequate” though officials noted that education facilities are planned.
In the section on staff numbers, the inspectors said employees had “a heavy workload” and raised “concern” that this will impact on the animal collection.
The inspectors did welcome the appointment of an education officer to the park, a “major improvement” to the meerkat enclosure and praised the new vet facilities. A spokesman for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaelteacht (DAHG) last night said Tayto Park had sent them a “detailed response” to the report.
A decision on the conditions attached to the park’s licence, including the restriction on adding animals, is expected this month.
In a statement, Tayto Park said the diet of overweight animals was reviewed and they are “in good health” with their weight having dropped “to the desired level”.
It said that the inspectors’ “inappropriate breeding” comment referred to animals that are not part of the European Breeding programme, but added that Tayto Park is in the process of attaining full membership of zoos organisation BIAZA this year.
It said that staff numbers have been increased in line with the inspectors’ recommendation.
They said: “we believe we have complied with all conditions and recommendations in the Zoo Licence” and are |awaiting the Department’s response.
The statement said that Tayto Park has no applications to add new animals “at this time” but added: “We believe we are in a position to obtain such permission if we request it.”
Elsewhere both Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park in Cork had their licences renewed without new conditions being imposed.
Inspectors welcomed plans for new sealion and flamingo enclosures at Dublin Zoo and a tropical house at Fota.
Referring to the incident at Dublin Zoo last year where a girl was injured after being attacked by a Brazilian tapir, the officials noted that “precautions” for working with the animals have been put in place.