Lions may be put down if park closes


THIRTY lions and tigers at the Causeway Safari Park, near Ballymoney, Co Antrim, may have to be put down if the park is forced to close.

This follows a decision in the High Court in Belfast to wind up the company which owns the park. It followed a petition from Customs and Excise for non payment of VAT.

Park director Mr Jim Garvin later said he would in his power to keep the park open and save the lives of the animals.

"We have been feeding them out of our own pockets for the last three months and our first priority must be to save these beasts from the wild," he said. "But if we don't get financial help we would be forced to close. That would mean the heartbreak of having the animals put down, as it would not be possible to relocate them."

The park - the only one of its kind in the North - ran into a cash difficulties last summer after a dramatic drop in visitors. The breakdown of the IRA ceasefire and the Drumcree crisis were blamed for keeping people away.

Mr Garvin says the local council in Ballymoney, government departments and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, are all backing his attempts to keep the park in business.

"Obviously they do not want to see the disappearance of such a well known tourist attraction," he said.