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Zoos welcome £100m support package but say ‘huge mountain’ to climb yet

PUBLISHED: 15:01 27 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:12 28 June 2020

Claudia Roberts, managing director of the Commercial, Zoological Society of East Anglia  Picture: Submitted

Claudia Roberts, managing director of the Commercial, Zoological Society of East Anglia Picture: Submitted

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Two of East Anglia’s major zoos hope part of a £100m government rescue package will help them survive the coronavirus.

Banham Zoo and Africa Alive both plan to reopen on Saturday, July 4   Picture: Brittany WoodmanBanham Zoo and Africa Alive both plan to reopen on Saturday, July 4 Picture: Brittany Woodman

Banham Zoo in Norfolk and Africa Alive in Lowestoft, Suffolk, have been closed through lockdown.

Both plan to reopen on Saturday, July 4, when social distancing and other restrictions are being partially eased to allow the re-opening of cafes and indoor areas.

Animal welfare minister Lord Goldsmith announced £100m on Saturday to help zoos and aquariums “mitigate the impacts” of the coronavirus pandemic.

Claudia Roberts, managing director, commercial, of the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), said: “We are doing everything we can to give Banham Zoo and Africa Alive a fighting chance of survival and the Defra announcement of a £100m rescue package is welcome news although the details about how to apply or which zoos are eligible have not yet been given.

The animals have not seen anyone apart from their keepers for the last three months   Picture: Victoria PertusaThe animals have not seen anyone apart from their keepers for the last three months Picture: Victoria Pertusa

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“We have incredible fund raising support from our communities and we are reopening to the public on July 4, but we still have a huge mountain to climb to survive over the long winter period ahead.

“The government support will we hope go some way to helping us sustain the zoos through the winter and protect some of our immensely important conservation, education and community projects. These include working with more than 1,000 schools in East Anglia and with our communities on local mental health and wellbeing programmes.”

At the end of May, the ZSEA announced a “survival business plan”, and said they had lost around £1.5m in revenue..

Lord Goldsmith said: “We have a world-leading zoo and conservation sector, and I know how hard zoos have been working to safeguard the welfare of their animals in the face of real financial hardship and uncertainty.

MORE - Zoos cut jobs to survive pandemic

“Allowing zoos to reopen has taken off some of the pressure, but the coronavirus pandemic has left them facing long-term financial problems. This funding will therefore be a lifeline for our zoos and aquariums and ensure the quality of animal care continues over the coming months.”

Establishments which are covered by the Zoo Licensing Act will be able to bid for a portion of the £100m that has been made available.


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