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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Dalton zoo owner denies allowing animals to escape

THE owner of a top tourist attraction in Dalton has been told he could face up to a year in jail if he is convicted of allowing animals to escape from his zoo.

David Gill
David Gill

David Stanley Gill pleaded not guilty to three counts of allowing animals to escape from South Lakes Safari Zoo yesterday.

The 53-year-old, who opened South Lakes Wild Animal Park in 1994, is alleged to have allowed a sacred ibis to escape from the Dalton attraction on three occasions last year, on July 19, September 19 and October 3.

Gill runs South Lakes Wild Animal Park, recently rebranded South Lakes Safari Zoo, in Dalton, which was this week named in Trip Advisor’s top 10 UK zoos.

Dressed in a black, pin striped suit, white shirt and multi-coloured tie, Gill spoke only to confirm his name and to elect to have a summary trial in Furness Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Peter Kelly, prosecuting, said: “This is an unusual offence and I can’t assist the court with any guidelines.

“The maximum powers of sentence ultimately would be 12 months imprisonment.”

A report from a wildlife expert was read to the court outlining prospective dangers posed by the invasive non-native species including to local birdlife and amphibians.

Mr Steve Walker, defending, said there had been no suggestion the birds had set up a colony or posed an immediate threat to wildlife.

Mr Walker said the birds pose no threat to humans.

The court heard Gill is the sole director of South Lakes Wild Animal Park Ltd and will also face the charges as company secretary, as well as personally.

No date has been fixed for the trial but it is expected to go ahead in Furness Magistrates’ Court in September.

Gill was released on unconditional bail.

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