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Colchester Zoo warns of ‘huge financial concerns’ after dramatic fall in visitors

PUBLISHED: 13:40 28 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:40 28 July 2020

Colchester Zoo reopened to guests on June 18 after months of closure  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Colchester Zoo reopened to guests on June 18 after months of closure Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Colchester Zoo has warned that wildlife parks still face “huge financial concerns” despite reopening - because Covid-19 has forced them to drastically reduce visitor numbers.

Colchester Zoo director Dr Dominique Tropeano  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNColchester Zoo director Dr Dominique Tropeano Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Dominique Tropeano, the zoo’s managing director, wrote to supporters this week ahead of what would usually be the busiest period for the centre.

“Normally we would enjoy 130,000 paying visitors plus gold passholder visits,” he said.

“This year we only expect 60,000, therefore our income is going to be really affected making our survival target this winter extremely tough.”

Despite assuring customers it is heading “in the right direction” after it was given the green light to reopen by the government on June 18, the zoo is calling on supporters to continue visiting throughout Halloween and winter.

The zoo has faced financial hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe zoo has faced financial hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr Tropeano wrote: “There are still huge financial concerns over the future of zoos because of the past few months events and Colchester Zoo is in the mix. We now have to trade with much reduced visitor numbers to comply with the current social distancing protocols.

“This has reduced our ability to enjoy our normally healthy July numbers, so we have to carefully ensure we strike a balance between allowing the number of paying visitors and the demands of gold passholders.

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“We are running towards August, usually the month where financially we benefit the most with our highest attendance.

“This will be the crunch.”

The zoo has welcomed around 10,000 members through its doors in the past two weeks – the highest number ever recorded at the zoo during this period.

But despite Mr Tropeano assuring the zoo has fared “extremely well” compared to others, he said the zoo continues to need the support of its customers.

He said: “Therefore, I am going to beg you and hope you will visit this winter too as this will be crucial to our survival plan.

“I have the faith we will get through, survive and flourish. You learn a lot during tough times including who you are, I know I will come out of this a better and stronger man.

“There was a period of time when I thought this sunset would lead to the darkness of failure and whilst early 2021 is when we will know where we stand, I feel more confident now.

“Thank you for your patience, thank you for support, it has been hard and demanding for us but we know NHS people are the real heroes, we only did our job.”


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