An animal kingdom dubbed "Britain's worst zoo" has finally closed after 57 of the kingdom's animals died, and several tried to escape.
Tracy Tweedy and her husband Dean took over Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, near Aberystwyth in Wales, in the summer of 2017.
Soon after exchanging their home for the £650,000 business, complete with lions, lizards, monkeys and emus, things began to go wrong and within six months, Lilleth, Eurasian lynx, escaped from her enclosure.
The search lasted 10 days before the local Ceredigion County Council called in a game hunter and the couple received a call letting them know their cat had been shot.
At the time, Dean said: "We got a call at about 2am to say, You can stand down now, we’ve shot your cat.
"It was devastating. We’d spent ten days not sleeping . . . our world began to collapse at about that point."
A 2018 freedom of information request then revealed 57 of the kingdom’s 305 animals died in 2018, and the couple’s money woes were compounded by the pandemic.
Five of seven marginated tortoises perished, as did seven of 30 primates, five of six parakeets, two of nine meerkats and one of two caiman crocodiles.
The couple then sunk into financial woes and an alleged financial battle with Dean’s parents ensured, according to Tracy.
Borth Wild Animal Kingdom managed to stay afloat, however, with the generosity of donations, but the pandemic hit and the couple were forced to furlough staff.
She claimed it cost £3,000 per week to run the zoo and expressed disappointment in the lack of support from the Welsh government.
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Tracy added: "We were already only scraping by financially after the long, quiet winter season.
"We need help now more than ever. Despite everything, we are as determined as ever to not give up."
In a statement, Dean and Tracey said they are saying goodbye to two of its lions, Zulu and Wilma, which are heading to Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent.
The couple admitted: "The only good thing about the cats going is that it will lighten the financial burden a little.
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"It may come as no surprise that after being closed for most of 2020 and all of 2021 so far, we are facing bankruptcy. It’s a miracle we have managed to survive as well as we have."
Dean and Tracy hope to fight on but, a virtual hearing earlier in February ruled the zoo should be compulsorily wound up and have its assets liquidated due to it owing creditors more than £122,000.
The Daily Star has approached Dean and Tracy’s Borth Wild Animal Kingdom for comment.
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