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Campaign calls for zoo to close following death of second lynx

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IT HAS been revealed this morning (Nov 13) that a second Lynx has died at Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, prompting calls for the attraction to be closed.

The lynx, Nilly, died before a second escaped Lynx was shot by Ceredigion County Council on Friday (Nov 10).

The zoo said that a ‘handling error’ lead to the asphyxiation of the animal.

Lynx UK Trust have now started a campaign calling for the closure of the zoo.

The group said: “We are appalled to see the zoo attempting to court public sympathy for the loss of “our baby lynx” Lillith whilst attempting to cover up the circumstances of her escape and the death of the second lynx.”

In a statement, Borth Wild Animal Kingdom said: “It is with deep sadness and regret we announce the demise last week of Nilly, an adult female lynx, who was unrelated to Lillith but shared an enclosure. Over the past few weeks our staff have been under incredible pressure and when the authorities gave us 24-hour notice that they would be carrying out a full cat inspection we took the decision to move Nilly to a more suitable enclosure.

“Unfortunately, there seems to have been a terrible handling error where it seems she twisted in the catch-pole and became asphyxiated. An internal investigation is underway, and a key member of staff has been unable to work since the ordeal as they are truly devastated by what has happened. The authorities were notified after the incident and will be carrying out their own full investigation.

“When we took over this zoo less than six months ago we knew that there were serious issues with how some of the animals were housed. The lynx enclosure especially was not fit for purpose and certainly not up to modern zoo standards. One of the first things we did was put in a double door system so staff could safely gain access and segregate the animals to stop them from fighting. Plans are in place to build a whole new enclosure on the hill for the lynx which will give them all the individual space that they need.

“The zoo is now closed and will remain closed until further notice. This summer we have been working hard to make vast improvements, but it does seem to be that we are swimming against the tide. There are many serious issues with this establishment that need to be addressed before we go forward. Hopefully we can work with the authorities to bring this place up to code and create a home for these animals that is safe and secure.

“This is the only zoo in the county of Ceredigion and it would be a real loss to the area if this much-loved home for rescued exotic animals was not allowed to continue after refurbishment. We bought this place not to make money, but because we are animal lovers and could see that this place in this beautiful location needed some serious love and attention.”

A spokesperson for Ceredigion County Council said: “The Council is currently investigating a recent second incident regarding the death of a Lynx linked to Borth Wild Animal Kingdom which was brought to the Council’s attention the day after the animal had been inadvertently killed. Due to an ongoing investigation, we are unable to provide further comment.”

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Police trying to track stolen tanker

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating the theft of a fuel tanker containing approximately 8,500 litres of diesel (4,000 litres of red diesel and 4,500 litres of white diesel).

The vehicle was taken from Tan Y Foel Quarry, Cefn Coch, Welshpool, between 5.30pm on Wednesday, May 23 and 6am on Thursday, May 24.

The police are asking people to see if the tanker is now in this area.

Anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908, quoting Ref: DPP/0006/24/05/2018/01/C.

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Reprogrammed virus offers hope as cancer treatment

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A CANCER treatment that can completely destroy cancer cells without affecting healthy cells could soon be a possibility, thanks to research led by Cardiff University.

The team of researchers has successfully ‘trained’ a respiratory virus to recognise ovarian cancer and completely destroy it without infecting other cells. The reprogrammed virus could also be used to treat other cancers such as breast, pancreatic, lung and oral.

Dr Alan Parker from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine said: “Reprogrammed viruses are already being used in gene therapy procedures to treat a range of diseases, demonstrating they can be trained from being life-threatening into potentially lifesaving agents.

“In cancer treatment, up until now, reprogrammed viruses have not been able to selectively recognise only the cancer cells and would also infect healthy cells, resulting in unwanted side effects.

“We’ve taken a common, well-studied virus and completely redesigned it so that it can no longer attach to non-cancerous cells but instead seeks out a specific marker protein called αvβ6 integrin, which is unique to certain cancer cells, allowing it to invade them.

“In this case we introduced the reprogrammed virus to ovarian cancer which it successfully identified and destroyed.

“This is an exciting advance, offering real potential for patients with a variety of cancers.”

Once the virus enters the cancer cell it uses the cell’s machinery to replicate, producing many thousands of copies of itself, prior to bursting the cell and thereby destroying it in the process. The newly released viral copies can then bind and infect neighbouring cancer cells and repeat the same cycle, eventually removing the tumour mass altogether.

The virus also activates the body’s natural immune system, helping it to recognise and destroy the malignant cells.

The reprogrammed virus is from a group of respiratory viruses called adenoviruses. The advantage of using these viruses is that they are relatively easy to manipulate and have already been safely used in cancer treatment.

The technique used to reprogramme the virus to identify the protein common to ovarian, breast, pancreatic, lung and oral cancers could also be used to manipulate it so that it would recognise proteins common to other groups of cancers.

Additional refinement to the viral DNA could also allow the virus to produce anticancer drugs, such as antibodies, during the process of infecting cancer cells. This effectively turns the cancer into a factory producing drugs that will cause its own destruction.

The research was carried out in a laboratory, using mice with ovarian cancer, and has not yet reached clinical trials. The next step is to test the technique with other cancers, with a view to starting clinical trials in five years’ time.

Dr Catherine Pickworth from Cancer Research UK said: “It’s encouraging to see that this virus, which has been modified to recognise markers on cancer cells, has the ability to infect and kill ovarian cancer cells in the lab. Viruses are nature’s nanotechnology and harnessing their ability to hijack cells is an area of growing interest in cancer research.

“The next step will be more research to see if this could be a safe and effective strategy to use in people.”

The team includes researchers from Cardiff University; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA; Glasgow University; the South West Wales Cancer Institute; and Velindre Cancer Centre.

The research was funded by Cancer Research UK, Tenovus Cancer Care and Cancer Research Wales.

The paper ‘Ad5NULL-A20 – a tropism-modified, αvβ6 integrin-selective oncolytic adenovirus for epithelial ovarian cancer therapies’ is published in Clinical Cancer Research.

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Money raised by Canolfan Padarn in the Race for Life

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STAFF and service users from Canolfan Padarn took part in this year’s Race for Life which took place on Sunday, May 13.

Service users Debbie, Lowri and Donna had been training for months as part of the centre’s healthy lifestyle group and were joined by staff members Lina, Ellie-May, Heather, Jenny, Dawn and Anwen, along with Heather’s daughter Cala, and Anwen’s daughter Jena.

Canolfan Padarn Support Worker Ellie-May Watkins said: “The crowd gave the crew great support and we’re grateful to everyone who cheered us on. We’d like to say a huge thank you to Queens Road Bowling Club for use of their facilities on the day. Previously, Canolfan Padarn raised £330 for Cancer research, we hope that we will match or exceed that in sponsorship this year.”

Canolfan Padarn is a community resource base for adults with learning disabilities in Aberystwyth, offering social, leisure and work opportunities in the local area.

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