‘Storm of gigantic proportion’: Colchester Zoo warns it may not survive second lockdown

Colchester Zoo has been forced to close because of the second coronavirus lockdown. Picture: SARAH L

Colchester Zoo has been forced to close because of the second coronavirus lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Colchester Zoo has said the second coronavirus lockdown “may prove too much” - warning that it may not survive the “devastation” of the crisis.

White rhino Astrid at Colchester Zoo. Picture: TOM SMITH/COLCHESTER ZOO

White rhino Astrid at Colchester Zoo. Picture: TOM SMITH/COLCHESTER ZOO - Credit: Archant

Managers of the popular venue believe a “storm of gigantic proportion will hit us” if the venue cannot reopen in December, saying the second national shutdown which began on November 5 was the “worst thing that could happen”.

MORE: ‘We may fail to win this war’ – Boss’ stark warning on future of Colchester Zoo

Owner Dr Dominique Tropeano said the first lockdown had brought the zoo “financially on our knees”, adding in a letter to supporters: “We are back to being very concerned regarding our ability to survive.”

It has urged people who booked passes to the zoo or its animal experiences to instead donate the money to its online emergency operating fund.

Colchester Zoo believes the effects of the second Covid-19 lockdown 'may prove too much'. Picture: S

Colchester Zoo believes the effects of the second Covid-19 lockdown 'may prove too much'. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Dr Tropeano said: “When we re-opened in the spring, following a long period of closure bringing us financially on our knees, we believed this was going to be the first step towards bringing some sort of normality back to our working and private life and rejoiced this normality returning.

“Then we saw the beginning of changes, the virus carried on in the background working relentlessly to make its second kill.

“The virus has managed to bring back the sleepless nights, all the worries of the spring are here again upsetting our lives both private and professional.

“This is a crossroad and a very dangerous one bringing us into unchartered grounds.

Colchester Zoo is urging people to donate to its online appeal fund. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Colchester Zoo is urging people to donate to its online appeal fund. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

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“Our doors here at Colchester Zoo are now closed and locked, so the tills have stopped ringing.

“We have to look at what finances we have been able to save, where we must spend it and certainly be very careful because there is no hope of huge funding coming our way.

“There is never a right time to see any business close down but it is clear this is the worst thing that could happen to a zoo, including Colchester Zoo.”

While many businesses can close, Dr Tropeano said zoos have to carry on caring for animals - without the income from visitors.

A male lion at Colchester Zoo. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

A male lion at Colchester Zoo. Picture: GETTY IMAGES - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“At the end, sadly, everything being achieved comes down to money, after the early closure, that ravaged our finances, a small recovery was made with the summer opening, but now we are back to being very concerned regarding our ability to survive,” Dr Tropeano said.

“Should we not be able to re-open our doors early December, it will feel like clouds gathering in a dark winter sky and a storm of gigantic proportion will hit us.

“Its force may prove to be too much and may leave complete devastation behind.”

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