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Bovine TB forces Paignton Zoo to put down herd of antelope

A total of 10 antelope have been put down. Photo: Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo says it has been forced to put down a small herd of antelope because of bovine TB.

The 10 Kafue Flats lechwe - 2 male and 8 female – were put down on advice from the Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA).

the zoo says it is working with APHA to minimise the spread of disease to other animals.

Paignton Zoo says it is working to minimise the spread of disease. Credit: ITV West Country

Paignton Zoo says it discovered 'suspect' material when one of the herd died in May.

The routine post-mortem examination discovered suspect material. This tested positive for bovine tuberculosis. This is a notifiable disease and by law has to be reported to the government, who have legal powers to enforce action to control its spread.

– Paignton Zoo

The attraction says the process has taken time because there are no validated TB tests available for lechwe.

TB is an incredibly complicated disease which comes in many forms, is hard to detect and harder to confirm. As soon as there is a suspected case, samples are sent for culture. It can take up to 16 weeks to get a result. This is the first confirmed case of bovine TB at Paignton Zoo.

– Paignton Zoo
The zoo says there is no increased risk to visitors. Credit: ITV West Country

Paignton says there is no increased risk to visitors.

The zoo says the cull is the safest option given the circumstances.

The most important thing is to take appropriate action to make sure more animals in the collection are not infected. We had to cull the antelope to protect the other animals in the Zoo, as a farmer would have to cull to protect livestock around a farm.

– Simon Tonge, Executive Director, Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo says as well as preventing the disease spreading to its other animals, it is considering how to stop more cases being brought in by wild animals.

It’s possible the TB came from badgers. We have no plans to cull badgers, but instead want to look at other options like badger-proof fencing and vaccination, if this is something that can be arranged with the relevant authorities.

– Simon Tonge, Executive Director, Paignton Zoo