A young female giraffe has died at South Lakes Safari Zoo with growing concerns about the conditions on the site raised by campaigners.

Protesters campaigning for the closure of the Dalton attraction took to the streets of Ulverston to gain more signatures for their petition.

Focusing their attention on the death of the giraffe, the campaigners also argued animal's diets were not being properly maintained.

The Mail: A giraffe at South Lakes Safari Zoo (Archive)A giraffe at South Lakes Safari Zoo (Archive) (Image: Archive)

The group, 'Close Down South Lakes Zoo', said: "These animals get white bread, donuts and carrots, they [the zoo owners] get these free from local supermarkets - this is not the food they should get.

"Lots signed our petition and took leaflets, showing good energy - this [the closure of the zoo] is achievable because the universe is on our side."

The group was joined by Freedom for Animals, a leading animal protection charity, and activists Luke Taylor and Nichola Baker.

An abolitionist vegan animal rights group, North East Animal Rights (NEAR), held a parallel protest in Newcastle to the one that took place in Ulverston.

A spokesperson from Westmorland and Furness Council countered the protests by confirming that an inspection of the premises took place in December 2023.

"Under the terms of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, the council monitors and reviews the zoo’s operations through a regular regime of informal, periodical and special inspections," said a spokesman.

“A special inspection was conducted in December looking specifically at the zoo’s information management system and veterinary provision.

“An inspection report was prepared and we can confirm there were no immediate matters to bring to the attention of the council’s Regulatory Committee.

“Following specific concerns raised about animal welfare at the zoo by a member of the public, council officers have also investigated these matters and are satisfied that animal welfare has not and is not being compromised."

A further inspection will take place in the coming months, the findings of which will be presented to the regulatory committee for consideration, along with the report from December.

Janette Kemp, CEO of The Zoo Investment Company Ltd, explained that she and her team 'were not aware of any protests that took place over the weekend'.

Mrs Kemp went on to confirm the news of the giraffe's death in January and said the Cumbria Zoo Company, who run South Lakes Zoo, had not co-operated with their investigations.

She said: "Cumbria Zoo Company Limited have refused our request to see the Post Mortem. 

"I can also confirm we that we have previously highlighted our concerns over animal diets and poor feeding practices."

The Cumbria Zoo Company refused to comment.