THE chief executive of South Lakes Safari Zoo has revealed the reason she invited the BBC to do a documentary about the Dalton attraction.

Trouble at the Zoo, which aired on BBC2 at 9pm on Thursday, gave a 'warts and all' account of the day-to-day running of the attraction.

Viewers saw heartbreaking scenes when a red panda cub was found to have died and the moment Nero the lion passed away.

Speaking to News & Star , Karen Brewer said she felt the documentary captured her staff's dedication and caring nature.

"We wanted to show that working with animals and running a complex business is emotional and is difficult and I felt the programme did capture that, and that we're all human," she said.

Mrs Brewer said the zoo had asked the BBC to do a documentary to illustrate how things had changed since David Gill stepped down from his role.

Cumbria Zoo Company Limited, headed up by Mrs Brewer, was set up in October 2016 as the zoo moved away from the control of the zoo's controversial founder.

"When we invited them in the whole idea was to be open and transparent, to show who we are now, and that we don't want to hide behind anything," she said.

The documentary showed keepers taking an active role in the management of the zoo which is something Mrs Brewer was keen for people to see.

"Our whole ethos is to be open and transparent but also for everybody to have a voice and that's a really big change for us since we took over the running of the zoo," she said.

Trouble at the Zoo also illustrated the challenges faced by South Lakes Safari Zoo in terms of its income and outgoings.

As well as accepting donations from local supermarkets the zoo relies on visitor numbers which played a part in the decisions over which animals to keep when trying to reduce the zoo's population.

Mrs Brewer: "The finances are so important to make sure that we have a future.

"We know we need to make changes but they can only happen if the finances are there.

"Animal welfare has to be the priority and at the same time we have to make sure that we can sustain things.

"Really good decisions like reducing the animal numbers; that might sound alarming to say we are reducing it by 30 per cent but these are the real decisions behind the scenes that we have to make every day and we wanted people to see that."