Animal World closes its doors as it becomes latest victim of council cuts
ONE of Bolton’s most popular attractions, Animal World, has become extinct.
The centre in Moss Bank Park shut for good yesterday as Bolton Council chiefs look to cut costs.
Families flocked to the centre over the weekend to experience what has been a favourite day out for many, for the final time.
The closure is one of a number of money-saving measures announced by the council — including the removal of all park ranger posts in Bolton, a reduction in full-time grass cutting posts, fewer street sweepers and a reduction in the number of area forum meetings.
These measures have been taken as the council’s neighbourhood and regulatory services department aim to cut spending by £1.3 million.
There was a sense of sadness among some of the families who visited over the weekend.
Deborah Newhouse, who visited with her son Oliver, aged four, and other family members, said: “It is really sad that it has come to this as we have been coming here for a long time. It is great for kids to enjoy and they learn a lot.
“I have enjoyed it just as much as the kids — I find that during our busy lives it’s a place that we can come and get back to nature.”
Cheryl Amberton brought her niece Hollie, aged five, and six-year-old nephew Dylan to see the animals for the last time.
She said: “They are really enjoying it today — it’s a real shame that they can’t come again.”
The centre has special memories for Judith Kelly, from Tottington, who visited on a first date with her husband Paul in 1999.
She said: “We have great memories of the place, and it certainly played some part in my other half sticking around — he loved it.
“We went down for a final look yesterday and I had to take a packet of tissues because it is really upsetting. It is the end of an era. “ It was revealed in April that the future of Animal World was under threat after earlier attempts to close the attraction were scrapped in 2011 following a campaign to save the amenity.
An action group was formed by local residents who increased levels of volunteering and added a visitors’ charge.
Despite these changes, the centre was still costing the council £80,000 a year to run and the decision was then taken to close it.
The council said they have taken the “difficult decision” to close the centre, rather than make further cuts to street cleaning and grass cutting.
For the Brolan family, from Eccles, Sunday was their first and last trip to the centre.
Dad Carl Brolan, said: “This is the first time we have come and the kids are really enjoying it. We definitely would have planned to come again but now we have just heard that won’t be possible, which is a shame.”
The animals will remain at the park while Bolton Council liaises with the RSPCA to find them new homes.
Despite the closure of Animal World, the Hive Centre, which is run by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust on the same site, will remain open.
Senior Project Officer, Charlie Barlow said: “We are staying open and will be holding all sorts of interactive activities for kids including pot planting, arts and crafts and learning about growing food.”
* More information on the Hive Centre can be found at lancswt.org.uk/mossbankhive.
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