A PROPOSAL for a small zoo in the Craven Arms area has received a big thumbs down from the local Green party.

The idea had been suggested as an education resource and also another attraction to encourage visitors to come to south Shropshire as well as giving families from the area somewhere to go.

Initially on a small scale it would also provide job opportunities for people from the area.

Ashley Stanness, who has worked with exotic animals for eight years, wants to use his experience to bring a new attraction to the area and also help with conservation.

Mr Stanness, who has worked at a zoological park where he was a keeper and head of talks, is prepared to invest his own savings into the project but needs support if his venture is the take off.

He has been working on the project for the past three years and is looking for a location having considered a number of sites.

But the Green Party has launched a broadside against the scheme.

They describe the idea as: ‘incarcerating animals for the voyeuristic pleasure of humans’ and say that zoos encourage the trapping and exploitation of animals.

The Green Party believes this increasingly involves organised crime groups who see wildlife as a low risk, high value commodity and are systematically destroying the natural world.

They say the trade in wildlife species imperils many species - from big animals like tigers, to small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Furthermore, the Green Party add that the coronavirus pandemic is a sober reminder that our health, wellbeing and economy are all inextricably linked to the health of the natural world.

While the exact source of the Covid-19 virus remains uncertain, scientists agree that just like HIV, Ebola, SARS, bird flu, and MERS, COVID-19 is zoonotic: it jumped from animals to people, likely as a result of our increasing interaction with wildlife as humans encroach upon previously wild areas of the planet, wild animals end up in wildlife markets, and natural habitat is lost.

“What Craven Arms needs is a genuinely green reset that prioritises people’s health and wellbeing, and that of the natural world on which we depend,” said Hilary Wendt, Green Party co-ordinator in south Shropshire.

We are in the midst of a global pandemic ,which has killed 1.3 million people to date and affected hundreds of millions more. It stands as one of the starkest and most urgent warnings yet that our current relationship with nature and other species is unsustainable.”