A family with two children had to abandon their car in the lion enclosure at Longleat Safari Park yesterday after it caught fire.
Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire says it had to destroy five of its lions because they had serious genetic defects caused by inbreeding.
A safari park in Wiltshire has unveiled its plans for a new multi-million-pound elephant sanctuary.
The spokesman for Longleat Safari Park said that the visitors involved in the incident were believed to be a mother and her son and daughter who were aged around 12 or 13. Visitors said the lions were 150 metres from the people carrier when the incident happened and the car was left "burnt out".
The family remained in the smoking vehicle until the rangers arrived, and the car caught fire when they had left the area. Longleat staff said at no point were the mother and children waiting outside their vehicle.
Cars were cleared from the area following the fire to make way for the fire service, but the park was up and running again shortly after.
Laura Jeffries was a visitor at Longleat yesterday and saw the fire. She sent us this video.
Six lions have been put down at Longleat in Wiltshire.
In a statement the Safari Park said the decision was taken after the animals exhibited "odd aggressive behaviour." They also say a review of the genetic lineage of the lions showed inbreeding amongst their grandparents before coming to Longleat.
At the age of 13 months, at the collection where she was previously held, Louisa exhibited neurological clinical signs which were thought to have been caused by inadequate nutrition leading to hypovitaminosis A.
This was treated at the time but never fully resolved itself and she continued to exhibit clinical signs of head tilt and tremors throughout her life.
Despite suitable nutrition these neurological signs were present in her cubs, which were clearly distinct from other litters in the pride as they all individually exhibited adverse neurological signs such as ataxia, incoordination and odd aggressive behaviour that were not considered normal or appropriate compared to other animals within the collection.
Reviewing the genetic lineage of Louisa and her cubs it was found both Louisa's parents exhibited relatively high levels of inbreeding, prior to arrival, at a grand parentage level and great-grand parentage level.
– Longleat Safari Park
After considering the pressures in the group, due to the recent increase in
pregnancies, and the developmental disorders present in the cubs it was reluctantly decided that euthanasia was the responsible option for these individuals.
These decisions involve communication with all of our current staff, management team and with independent external ethical reviews undertaken to ensure we are consistent with best practice.
One of Britain's most popular safari parks has defended a decision to cull six lions after an increase in pregnancies, which staff said had caused "excessive violent behaviour".
Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire said a lioness and her cubs were suffering from "neurological development disorders" and ruled euthanasia was the "responsible option".
The explanation on the the park's Facebook page was met by a mixed reaction from the public.
The cull comes after a public campaign failed to stop Copenhagen Zoo from killing a young male giraffe.
Piles of autumnal leaves collected on the Longleat estate are providing a novel attraction for the Safari Park’s residents - including a trio of endangered Amur tigers.
All three of the big cats were apparently fascinated by the fallen leaves, particularly when keepers hid tasty treats inside.
“The tigers love anything new to investigate and they were soon leaping into the leaves and hunting out the food inside the mounds,” said Longleat’s Ian Turner.
“The leaf litter also provided the perfect opportunity for them to practise their ambush skills - it’s quite a sight to see fully-grown tigers leaping over piles of leaves!"
This heron must have thought it had found the perfect fishing spot. But in fact it was pictured sitting on the back of one of Longleat Safari Park's most dangerous residents - a 1.5 tonne hippo.
Keeper Jon Reynolds at the Wiltshire safari park says the hippos are fairly short-tempered but as their skin can be 7cm thick, they may not even be aware of birds on their backs.
Visitors to Longleat Safari and Adventure Park were treated to a new attraction in the shape of a newborn giraffe.
The arrival is the latest success in an ongoing breeding programme for Rothschild’s giraffes at the famous Wiltshire site.
Rothchild's giraffes are threatened with extinction, so the birth represents an exciting moment for visitors and breeders alike.
Animal welfare experts are warning people not to take on pets they can't look after. It comes as Longleat in Wiltshire was forced to provide a home for four boa constrictors and a skunk.
Exotic animals are increasingly popular but, as Laura Makin-Isherwood reports, it's often organisations like Longleat that are left to pick up the pieces.