A LEADING animal campaign group yesterday called for the immediate closure of Glasgow Zoo because of alleged squalor and neglect.

Advocates for Animals sent a report to Glasgow City Council's licensing committee after carrying out what it described as a series of inspections at the zoo.

The organisation claims the report reveals a catalogue of health and safety problems, including evidence of abnormal animal behaviour, inappropriate housing conditions for the animals, and a general lack of maintenance.

It has sent the report to the convener of the licensing committee and to Strathclyde Fire Brigade.

Les Ward, director of Advocates for Animals, said yesterday: ''The first impressions for anyone entering Glasgow Zoo are of squalor and neglect. It has nothing to offer as a visitor attraction or educational resource.''

Mr Ward said the zoo was the worst he had encountered and said the group's report urged the licensing committee to close the zoo to the public with immediate effect.

A spokesman at the zoo defended conditions at the

attraction and said he believed the claims by the campaigning group were ''politically motivated''.

He said: ''The zoo staff are deeply committed to the welfare of the animals and the animals are humanely looked after and in good health.

''It has been well published that we have been short of cash for several years, but the animals have not suffered as a result.''

Roger Edwards, chief executive officer for the zoo, said he felt the population of Glasgow would be ''poorer'' without the zoo to bring animals into their city lives.

The campaign group claims the zoo is so badly maintained that animals, staff, and visitors are at risk.

The report is another problem for the attraction, where two former volunteer workers claimed pet animals handed in for safe-keeping were killed and fed to two python snakes, a claim which was rejected by the zoo.

The council is already investigating other official and private complaints about the zoo, which might have its six-year licence revoked or suspended.

The group's report is by Samantha Scott, an animal behaviourist at the Royal Veterinary School in Edinburgh, and Jordi Casamitjana, Zoo Check scientific researcher.

It alleges evidence of abnormal animal behaviour, including animals pacing inside their cages; inappropriate housing conditions for animals; insufficient environmental enrichment, including ''little effort'' to be imaginative in the primates' house; and poor health care.

The report also claims buildings are run down and in disrepair, that there is a general lack of maintenance, and a lack of supervisory or security staff placing the public in danger from the animals.

One fire exit was said to be chained and partly blocked by chairs, and emergency exit procedures were criticised.