A NEW twist has been revealed in the South Lakes Safari Zoo saga.

Last month it was announced that the popular tourist attraction was to close its gates in January. 

But now it has been announced that the owner and founder, David Gill, has "gifted" the zoo to the Safari Zoo Nature Foundation - a charity run by South Lakes Safari Zoo. 

In a Facebook post on the Safari Zoo Nature Foundation's page, it says: "In a move planned over two years ago the Safari Zoo Nature Foundation will operate the Zoo in 2016 and onwards.  

"We hope that 2016 will bring increased funds and awareness to all our overseas projects that are the focus of the zoo's very existence. 

"David has also prepared the way for a new 'Natural History museum' to be brought to the zoo to develop and expand local education and awareness of our Lake district wildlife and habitat in partnerships with others. 

"It is hoped that the Zoo can open all its new facilities that will be under construction in the next months for Easter."

The post also goes on to explain that even though Mr Gill has retired from the zoo he will be the project leader of the overseas programmes for the charity. 

In the comments section of the post it is confirmed that the zoo will still be closing on January 11 but it plans to reopen sometime before Easter. 

The announcement of the closure followed a decision made by Barrow Borough Council to close the zoo's public walkways due to health and safety reasons.

On their Facebook page it says: "To all concerned the zoo will be closing to the public as of Monday January 11. 

"This is due to some essential works that must go on. Staff will still be at the site to help with this work, care for the animals and attend other work. 

"We currently have no information to give on the reopening of the zoo, as there are meetings to be held to confirm details. 

"However, we still have lots of plans for the future."