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Colchester Zoo passholders depriving others of a visit

PUBLISHED: 19:00 25 June 2020 | UPDATED: 18:04 26 June 2020

About 1,200 visitors are attending the zoo every day - but the zoo needs more than 3,000 a day to stay afloat Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

About 1,200 visitors are attending the zoo every day - but the zoo needs more than 3,000 a day to stay afloat Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Hundreds of tickets to Colchester Zoo are being wasted by passholders not showing up, according to the zoo director.

It costs £25,000 to run Colchester Zoo every day Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNIt costs £25,000 to run Colchester Zoo every day Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The zoo reopened on June 18 with a new booking system, letting paying customers buy tickets for a specific time slot.

Zoo passholders, who pay an annual fee to attend as much as they like, can also book a slot in the new system – but hundreds of people are making these reservations and failing to turn up, depriving other customers space and costing the zoo thousands in ticket revenue.

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On the Colchester Zoo website director Dr Dominique Tropeano pleaded with pass holders only to book a slot they will use.

Colchester Zoo Director Dr Dominique Tropeano is asking passholders to stop booking visitng slots and not coming to the zoo Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNColchester Zoo Director Dr Dominique Tropeano is asking passholders to stop booking visitng slots and not coming to the zoo Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It is with great sadness but also with a degree of annoyance I am forced to write to all zoo passholders,” he said.

“A large number of passholders are booking a time slot but then not turning up, depriving others.

“We are not talking in dozens but hundreds and hundreds making bookings which they are not fulfilling.

“We had one day where 500 zoo passholders who had booked and expected to visit simply just did not turn up.

Dr Tropeano thinks the zoo needs 230,000 visitors in July and August to survive the winter Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDr Tropeano thinks the zoo needs 230,000 visitors in July and August to survive the winter Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“So please only book a visit if you intend to visit the zoo. Think of the people you are depriving but also think of the future survival of the zoo.”

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Dr Tropeano said the team at the zoo intended to allow pass holders to book a trip up to three days in advance, but expanded it to 10 days after “a moment of weakness”. Staff will now monitor passholder activity and are prepared to suspend offenders’ passes for a month if they keep wasting visitors slots.

According to Dr Tropeano, the zoo needs about 230,000 visitors in two months to survive the winter, even with planned budget cuts being factored in.

Since reopening the zoo has had roughly 1,200 visitors a day – or roughly 40,000 a month.

He added: “Of course if you have purchased a pass you are entitled to come to the zoo every day if you so wish and we are delighted to be of service but to book and not turn up is detrimental to Colchester Zoo.

“We have also had so many people who have been so kind, so generous, so understanding and grateful to see the zoo doors opened again that words fail me to express what I feel from the bottom of my heart.”


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