Colchester Zoo pleads for visitors to return when lockdown is eased
- Credit: Archant
"When we re-open, we need your visits" - that is the plea from the director of Colchester Zoo as it looks ahead to reopening when the coronavirus lockdown is eventually eased.
The Maldon Road attraction was forced to close for much of 2020 under Covid-19 restrictions and is expected to stay shut until March or April this year.
Director Dr Dominique Tropeano said that "our income is at present rock bottom" but that it was still having to spend thousands of pounds a day caring for the animals.
He said the zoo had survived by being "very careful with our spending" and the help of "many financial donations and other acts of kindness" - although he said: "Most of our cash reserve has now disappeared.
"When we think of this period at the zoo, we will think of it as a period of despair, a period of worry, sleepless nights, even tears, but at the same time experienced the most amazing level of kindness and generosity by so many.
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"Survival has been an extremely hard experience, like it has been for many other families and businesses. The same question comes around every day, what will tomorrow be like?
"The levels of infection at the moment gives us some hope. With spring around the corner perhaps there will be daylight at the end of the tunnel.
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"We hope that later this month the prime minister will be in a position to give a green light of hope for March or April, so we will be able to proudly re-open our doors.
"When we re-open, we need your visits - not only will we enjoy your company but we have also conducted a low-level research analysis and strongly believe that many species of animals, because of the change of behaviour over the past months, have missed you as their daily therapy.
"So please come along but understand there will be limits to the number of visitors we can allow in at one time, so please also be patient and understanding."
After the first lockdown, only outdoor areas were opened due to rules over social distancing at the time.
However, the reduction of social distancing requirements to one-metre plus meant indoor enclosures and play areas could be reopened from July.
Many people had to book their visits in advance to ensure numbers on site could be limited.