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 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 were "inappropriate breeding" – though the species involved are not listed – and "overweight" raccoons 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.
The inspectors said employees had "a heavy workload" and raised "concern" 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 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. It said that staff numbers have been increased in line with the inspectors' recommendation.