Owners of Oulton Broad zoo fined after spot inspection

The owners of a north Suffolk zoo have been fined a total of �1,200 after they were found guilty yesterday of poor record keeping and management.

Ruth Carney and Marion Holness, of Pets Corner, at Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft, were convicted of six counts of failing to comply with their zoo licence following an inspection in December 2011.

The joint inspection by Waveney District Council environmental health officers and Suffolk trading standards team found a dead guinea pig, which appeared to have been half eaten, a dead baby python in a tank with other snakes, algal scum in feeding bottles and poor record keeping.

The inspection also found the zoo, which was closed at the time to the public, had no veterinary health care scheme and there were inadequate facilities in its vets room.

A trial at Lowestoft Magistrates' Court heard Pets Corner, which has been run by both women since 2008, was inspected on December 19, 2011 after Waveney District Council received a number of complaints, including one from a vet.

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Tony Burgess, senior environmental health officer, said three dead animals were found during the spot inspection, drinking water bottles for reptiles and rabbits were 'heavily contaminated with green algae' and hedgehogs were for sale, which also broke zoo regulations.

Following the inspection a later check of the zoo's annual stock list of births, deaths, arrivals and sales showed no mention of the dead snake and guinea pig and any post-mortem examinations on them.

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There had also been no veterinary health plan at the zoo from 2008 to the inspection, although one had been drawn up last year by its owners.

Also giving evidence was vet Andrew Williamson, who took part in the inspection.

On seeing African pygmy hedgehogs for sale he said: 'It is fundamentally unacceptable to give an impression that an exhibit in a zoo can be purchased.'

Vicky Nutley, prosecuting for Waveney District Council, said none of the allegations related to animal cruelty.

Carney and Holness, whose addresses were given as Pets Corner, both had no previous convictions and said they had been around animals all their lives.

Giving evidence Carney said at the time of the inspection Pets Corner had a daily diary, a vet's diary and card index which covered day-to-day activities at the zoo, which closes between November and March.

She said: 'We have done everything we can to accommodate for everything they have asked for us to do.'

Carney and Holness were each fined �600 and ordered to pay �750 each in prosecution costs.

A further 10 zoo licence offences they had been originally charged with were dropped by magistrates before the trial started.

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