Zoo jobs to go on Monday

COFFS HARBOUR Zoo's owners have hit out at Coffs Harbour City Council in a statement on the zoo's closure.

The zoo at Moonee, a major Coffs Harbour tourist attraction, will close on Monday with the loss of 10 jobs.

Robin Tampoe, the Australian solicitor for the zoo's Japanese owners, Shinichi Otani and Taketo Kurosawa, said the owners had invested 17 years and millions of dollar in the zoo.

He said they had tried extremely hard to try to make the zoo viable and had worked closely with JCFL College in Japan and the Coffs Harbour Education Campus and TAFE College to bring students from Japan to study here and gain practical experience at the zoo.

"These relationships have resulted in substantial financial benefit to the region, both in education and tourism," Mr Tampoe said.

"The owners have attempted to sell part of the zoo's land to reinvest into the zoo, unsuccessfully.

"They also submitted design plans to the Coffs Harbour council incorporating the zoo and the Aquajet facility.

"Such design plans were rejected by the council in favour of the Pet Porpoise Pool.

At a July 2005 meeting, Coffs Harbour City Council rejected a submission from the zoo to establish a small animal park and re-erect the Aquajet waterslide on the Jetty Oval land, in favour of an ambitious multi-million dollar proposal from the Pet Porpoise Pool.

Coffs Harbour mayor Cr Keith Rhoades said yesterday he did not wish to comment on the matter.

Mr Tampoe thanked Coffs Harbour people for their support and paid special tribute to zoo project manager Troy Saville and volunteers for their tireless work to keep the zoo running despite its difficulties.

Coffs Harbour City Council director of director of land use, health and development, Mark Salter, said the zoo's Moonee land had many constraints, which included flooding, coastal processes, vegetation and probably acid sulfate soils.

Susan Perry, the director of studies for the CHEC English Language Centre, said Coffs Harbour was going to be a poorer place for the zoo's closing.

She said while the closure would not affect the Centre's long-term animal management programs, which take students to a range of animal facilities, it would affect their short-term programs.

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