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Rutland Zoo owner fears she could be the target of animal activists after her car was set alight outside the attraction at Rutland Water

An arson attack has left the owners of Rutland Zoo fearing they could be the target of an animal activist.

Joanna Aldwinckle was shocked to discover someone had purposely started a fire in her car while it was parked at the attraction.

Thankfully staff spotted the smoke and were able to extinguish the fire before the vehicle went up in flames.

Mila Kean, Joshua Spary and Joanna Aldwinckle outside the zoo
Mila Kean, Joshua Spary and Joanna Aldwinckle outside the zoo

The previous weekend, someone had purposely blocked the toilets inside the zoo building.

Joanna said: “My main concern is the safety of the animals. Thankfully someone spotted the fire in time so the whole car didn’t go up.

“It is worrying but now we’ve installed CCTV cameras, I hope that’s the end of it.”

She added: “The police have been absolutely brilliant but did say it could be someone targeting us.

“I don’t know why it’s happening, but people have suggested it could be animal activists.”

Joanna took over the former Bugtopia centre last year. She is keen to expand its range of animals and has already added caiman crocodiles and a monitor lizard.

A spokesman for Leicestershire Police said: “Officers are carrying out enquiries after a vehicle was set alight while parked in a car park off Sykes Lane, Empingham on Thursday, July 1.

“No arrests have been made at this time and anyone with information is asked to contact police, quoting reference 21*366317.”

The fire was started at around 10.50am.

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