FORMER zoo boss David Gill has been appointed as an agent by the new owners of the attraction.

The landlords of South Lakes Safari Zoo in Dalton, the Zoo Investment Company (ZIC), have appointed the former zoo owner as an agent to perform an audit of assets at the site.

Mr Gill, now Rivera, bought the land off Broughton Road in 1993 and opened South Lakes Wild Animal Park the following year.

Having faced relentless criticism and calls for him to step down following a series of scandals, including the death of zookeeper Sarah McClay in 2013, the under-fire zoo boss handed over the reigns in January 2017, giving control of the park to a new company Cumbria Zoo Company Limited headed up by Karen Brewer.

Last year, the land which houses the zoo was bought by the Zoo Investment Company, however, the day-to-day operation of the zoo remains unaffected by the sale.

A spokesman for ZIC said Mr Gill has no other association or relationship with the zoo other than his appointment by the company as an agent.

He said: “The previous freeholder David Rivera has been appointed as an agent solely to allow him to perform an audit of assets as a final stage of the sale.

“He has no other association or relationship with ZIC and will have no on-going role.”

Mr Gill confirmed he had been appointed by the Zoo Investment Company as an agent and would be visiting the zoo today to perform an audit of assets.

He said his appointment is solely a legal term so he has a right to access the zoo on behalf of the ZIC.

A spokesman for the Cumbria Zoo Company said: “The Zoo Investment Company has teamed up with Mr David Gill (now Rivera) and have informed us that they have appointed Mr Gill/Rivera as their agent, and under the terms of the lease as our landlord they can send him to inspect the site in which we are tenants.

“As you can imagine with the history and Mr Gill/Rivera, once owner of Safari Zoo, is not in any way shape or form welcome here.

“As you can imagine we have spent the last four years and still now ongoing trying to prove to visitors, followers, supports and well in fact the entire nation and respected zoo world that Mr Gill/Rivera no longer has any involvement with this zoo.

“So we would like to make it very clear that Mr Rivera/Gill is only attending site today as a result of ZIC.

“We have to comply so to not breach our lease and put the future of our zoo in danger.”