Colchester Zoo and Africa Alive! could reopen as soon as July
- Credit: Picture: NEIL YOUNG
A Suffolk wildlife park has said the government reopening zoos in the coming weeks will give them a ‘fighting chance of survival’.
This afternoon Boris Johnson is expected to announce that zoos and other outdoor attractions can reopen as part of the gradual easing of lockdown.
He is expected to chair the government’s coronavirus daily briefing as the economy continues to reopen while minimising Covid-19’s rate of transmission.
Claudia Roberts, managing director of the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA) which runs Banham Zoo in Norfolk and Africa Alive in Suffolk, said the announcement gave them a “fighting chance of survival”.
She said it was hoped both facilities would reopen on July 1, following a deep clean, although cost cutting would still be needed due to income lost during the closure.
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The announcement comes after bosses at the ZSEA warned that not reopening in July could finish the company.
Gerard Smith, ZSEA chairman, said: “Both zoos were turned down for the government zoo grants of £100,000 because the rules were that they were only for zoos which had less than six weeks of cashflow and at the time we had 10 weeks of cash. The welfare of animals is the highest priority and we’d never want to let the zoos get to such a cliff edge, but that was then and the reality right now is that we are edging towards that cliff edge every day.”
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Recently, the boss of Colchester Zoo also warned of its future.
Dominique Tropeano, the zoo director, said: “I fear for the future, our animals, our employees and I fear we may well fail to win this war.
“What we have worked hard for over many years appears to have disappeared in the last three months.
“We had stability, even if we had ups and downs, we had plans to improve and expand, we had hope and determination to achieve our goals. But now I am concerned about the zoo and what the future will bring.”
“We are now in the middle of a battle but when we reopen the war will carry on and it is a very difficult war to win.
“We expect to only achieve 30 to 50% of our normal attendance, which would barely allow us to survive, providing that massive cuts to our costs are made.
“We expect retail and catering, a necessary income to help our survival, to reduce by at least 70% on our 2019 figures.
“Social distancing will ensure numbers are down but cost of maintaining all these regulations will need to increase to ensure we comply.”