Colchester Zoo announces temporary Tier 4 closure despite government advice

The Red Panda enclosure at Colchester Zoo

The Red Panda enclosure at Colchester Zoo which has announced it will remain closed under Tier 4 - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Bosses at Colchester Zoo have announced it will remain closed due to high Covid-19 rates in Essex, despite government advice saying it can open

In a letter posted on their website Dr Dominique Tropeano, managing director of the Maldon Road zoo, said he had made the decision because he could not "guarantee you and your child this is a safe space to spend the day".

Official government guidance states that outdoor attractions at the zoo may remain open, while its indoor attractions must close.

But Dr Tropeano, wrote: "After an extremely tough year which has brought us down to our knees, made us consider our future, when many of our worldwide conservation projects are starved of money, you could argue that being allowed to remain open is good news.

Colchester Zoo Director Dr Dominique Tropeano

Colchester Zoo managing director Dr Dominique Tropeano - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"However, it makes me think, 'But is it? Or above all, is it a sensible decision?'.


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"It makes me question, 'Do I really want the zoo to remain open in the winter without offering reasonable facilities? Do I want the zoo doors open to the public and not be able to guarantee you and your child this is a safe space to spend the day at this moment in time?'.

"No, I cannot guarantee this while the infection levels are so high, therefore in spite of financial loss the decision is taken, sadly, that we cannot reopen as we cannot guarantee your safety at the moment, nor do we want to be part of sending confusing messages when the Government message is clear in Tier 4 to ‘Stay at Home’."

Giraffes at Colchester Zoo, Essex

In June, Colchester Zoo opened it's gates for the first time in months - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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He went on to say that he believed this was the right decision "for now, until we see the level of infection lower" and that the zoo would review its position "from time to time".

Dr Tropeano asked visitors not to worry about the animals, saying they would continue to be well cared for during the closure.

An elephant at Colchester Zoo.

An elephant at Colchester Zoo. - Credit: COLCHESTER ZOO

The letter in full is below:

"Dear Friend & Supporter,

"I sincerely hope you have experienced peaceful and safe Christmas celebrations in what has been a year of turmoil, challenges and sadness for us all.

"The order to close our doors from Boxing Day onwards was not completely unexpected and understandable under the circumstances. High levels of infection in the county made the decision easy to accept.

"For a while now I actually thought we should not be open given the direction the level of infections were going.

"You will remember we never reopened our indoor play complex when we were allowed to because we could not guarantee complete safety therefore, we decided this was not a risk we should take.

"After being told we must close the zoo on the 23rd December from Boxing Day, later on an amendment was made, we were advised all our outdoor exhibits could remain accessible to visitors so as long as all indoor areas remain closed.

"In a word the Government is allowing zoos to stay open in Tier 4.

"After an extremely tough year which has brought us down to our knees, made us consider our future, when many of our worldwide conservation projects are starved of money, you could argue that being allowed to remain open is good news.

"However, it makes me think, 'But is it? Or above all, is it a sensible decision?'. It makes me question, 'Do I really want the zoo to remain open in the winter without offering reasonable facilities? Do I want the zoo doors open to the public and not be able to guarantee you and your child this is a safe space to spend the day at this moment in time?'.

"No, I cannot guarantee this while the infection levels are so high, therefore in spite of financial loss the decision is taken, sadly, that we cannot reopen as we cannot guarantee your safety at the moment, nor do we want to be part of sending confusing messages when the Government message is clear in Tier 4 to ‘Stay at Home’.

"This will not help us financially but this is, I believe, the right decision at least for now, until we see the level of infection lower, so we will review our position from time to time.

"I know many of you have been so kind and generous in the past, we hope you will continue to help us in any way you can so we can keep the Zoo going and survive.

"The 1st January 2021 will be much different to New Year 2020 and at this moment in time we don’t have a scenario for the New Year but we expect any recovery to be very tough and challenging.

"The animal collection will be fine, we will ensure everything is in place for their well-being so please do not worry about the animals.

"I will close this letter now, I hope you will be able to support us during this closure and we wish you all a happy and above all healthy New Year from the animals, all the staff and my family.

"Please click here to see how you can financially help during this time, your help is much needed and appreciated.

"Best wishes,

"Dr DA Tropeano OBE"




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