Exotic animals may be coming to a St Albans college

PUBLISHED: 17:00 27 May 2017

Oaklands animal care lecturers Nicola Edwards, Karen Maginnis and James Caudwell with some royal pythons

Oaklands animal care lecturers Nicola Edwards, Karen Maginnis and James Caudwell with some royal pythons

Archant

Exotic animals may be coming to a St Albans college to help teach students on animal care courses.

If St Albans district council (SADC) approves Oaklands College’s zoo licence application meerkats and lemars may be joining an arsenal of other species on the Smallford site.

They already have bearded dragons, snakes, spiny mice, spiders, budgies, sheep, pigs, goats, alpacas and guinea foul, as well as smaller animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits and cats.

People would be able to see the popular animals at community events.

A college spokesperson said: “By embracing these new additions into our existing animal family at Oaklands we are giving students studying animal management the experience and expertise that will put them in good stead for a career in the zoological industry.

“They will also make exciting additions for visitors to enjoy at our community events.”

Students on animal care courses work in shifts on the college’s own farm while sheep are lambing.

Head of legal, democratic and regulatory services for St Albans district council, Michael Lovelady, said: “Oaklands College has informed us that they intend to apply for a licence to operate a zoo.

“The application is expected later this year and it will then be considered by our licensing team.

“Under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, there are a number of conditions that will have to be met before a licence can be granted.

“For instance, we will need to be satisfied that the zoo will meet a high standard of animal welfare, has conservation measures in place and that there is no risk to the safety of the public.”

Under that act, a zoo is defined as “an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public otherwise than for purposes of a circus and otherwise than in a pet shop”.

Members of the public should have access “with or without charge for admission, on more than seven days in any period of 12 consecutive months”.

As it is such an unusual application, Oaklands has to warn SADC of their intention to lodge an application. It has not been submitted yet.

For further information on animal care courses at Oaklands College, click here.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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