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Former Headingley Bear Pit to be restored

The remains of an nineteenth century bear on Cardigan Lane in Headingley are to be restored and opened to the public.

The bear pit was erected during the height of the British Empire as part of the unsuccessful opening of the Leeds Zoological and Botanical Gardens, which was forced to shut within ten years due to financial issues.

The bear pit has remained standing and locked up ever since leaving passers by puzzled at what the turreted structure actually is.

However, the site is to be restored and regenerated into a local public green space.

Martin Hamilton of the Leeds Civic Trust said of the restoration plan:

“We hope that when the work is done it will be a pleasant place for people to come and enjoy, it’s very unusual to have a bit of green space in a very densely populated area here in LS6 but we’re going to have some benches here and some information boards to show the history of the site.”

The site, which did once house a brown bear is also to be used to educate visitors on the advancement of animal welfare since the pit was built, something Hamilton said was fundamental to the regeneration of the site:

“We are very conscious of how different things were in the 1840’s, the bear that was housed here would have had to put up with very poor conditions having been shipped all the way over from Africa and I do think it is important that we remember that and part of what we want to do is to educate people on the history of the site and how we have moved on from those eras and showing how different animal welfare is now to what it was back then.”

The restoration, estimated at roughly £100,000 is hoped to be fully completed and opened to the public by the end of the year.

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