Incidents at zoos launch inquiry on regulation

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Beachbuggin on Southsea Common. Picture: Allan Hutchings

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LABOUR MPs have launched an inquiry into how zoos are regulated following a series of incidents, including animals escaping at Marwell Zoo.

The review, undertaken by the party’s backbench committee on the environment, will investigate alleged shortcomings in zoos’ inspection practices.

Last year in June two macaques escaped from their enclosure at Marwell Zoo, in Winchester. Staff and the public were told to keep indoors while they were captured.

Other more serious incidents at zoos across the country include an aardvark and meerkats dying in a fire at London Zoo, the death of eight penguins at Chessington Zoo and, in 2013, a keeper killed by a tiger.

Labour’s shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman, said tragedies ‘raised questions on if the current licensing and inspection regime is fit for purpose’.

The committee will hear campaigners’ demands for a new office for zoo welfare, as well as calls from animal rights groups for a new licensing body to take over from councils.