ZOO bosses have made a bombshell discovery as they await their newest arrivals.
An enclosure specially created at Five Sisters Zoo, in West Calder, for three mistreated circus bears has been built on a Second World War bomb crater.
Workers were stunned as they made the find while clearing space to build a pond for the bears, which are due to arrive at the end of this month.
It is believed a German pilot en route to attack the Grangemouth oil refinery dropped his bombs on what is now the zoo when confronted by British forces.
The West Lothian attraction’s owner said he had been shocked.
Brian Curran said: “It’s a staggering discovery. Who would have thought it? The work was started by a German pilot.
“I always knew there was a hole there but I didn’t know it was a bomb crater and I didn’t realise how deep it was.
“I was quite shocked when I found out. To find out that bombs have been dropped here is quite a thought.”
The 52-year-old added: “It wasn’t until the hole was dug out, and the litter, leaves and branches were taken out, that I realised how deep it was.
“I had wondered what had caused the hole before but it never really occurred to me that it could be a bomb crater.”
At the time the bomb was thought to have been dropped, the site was used for shale mining. The crater is about ten feet deep and measures about ten metres square.
One resident, who didn’t want to be named, said he remembered seeing bomb craters while growing up in the area in the 1950s.
The 59-year-old, who worked on the enclosure, said: “I was always told that it was a German bomber trying to bomb Grangemouth but one of our fighters was on his tail, so to try and dodge away from him he dropped all his bombs where he was so he could escape.
“I grew up in the prefabs in the 1950s in Polbeth. The bomb craters started where the zoo is now and went all the way down towards Livingston. The craters have been filled in over the years.”
Meanwhile, an appeal is ongoing to raise the funds needed to bring the bears – Suzy, Carmen and Peggy – to West Calder. They are due to arrive on March 30.
They are currently living in a cramped holding centre in Belgium, with the zoo still needing to raise £22,000 to transport and rehome them. Mr Curran will foot the bill if the fundraising campaign falls short.
Pupils at Balbardie Primary School, in Bathgate, will hold a raffle for the cause on Friday.
Make a donation at www.fivesisterszoo.co.uk/prices/save-the-bears-donation.