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UK Zoos at Breaking Point as Government issues ‘Indefinite’ Closure Order

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: June 4, 2020 8:42 pm

A chimpanzee is one of the animal's requiring care at Twycross Zoo

Photo Credit: Twycross Zoo

Zoos across the United Kingdom have revealed that they have been ordered to prepare to remain closed indefinitely as other attractions start to open across the country.

Chester Zoo and Twycross Zoo are two of the hardest hit and have revealed this morning that they are now in a fight for survival as cash reserves begin to run out.

Throughout lockdown zoos across the United Kingdom closed despite not initially being ordered to by the government to help stop the spread. Instead of this lockdown being lifted this week, as hoped, zoos were added to the UK closure order on May 31st, 2020.

Chester Zoo

The two zoo's which have shared their troubles

The costs of running each zoo is staggering and they are primarily supported through visitor income. Chester revealed that as much as 97% of their income is derived from visitors.

While many businesses are able to shut down operations without major cost, zoos such as Chester and Twycross are the homes for animals which still require continuing care. Chester is home to over 35,000 individual animals while Twycross provide care to 125 species.

As James Christon, Chief Operating Officer of Chester explained this specialized care can’t be compromised, “We absolutely refuse to cut corners when it comes to caring for the animals. But ensuring that each and every one of the 35,000 animals at the zoo is receiving the best possible care, every single day, comes at a huge financial cost.”

Calling the cost of this care huge is an understatement with Chester requiring £465,000 a month to feed and Twycross’ bills running over half a million.

While food is a major part of their costs each month Chester Zoo also has a range of other expenses each month including  utilities, insurance, maintenance, security and the basic administration services needed to keep ticking over which come to a total of £1.6 million.

These costs are before the zoos contribute to conservation projects the world over including 80 which are supported by Chester.

Both Twycross and Chester were part of lobbying for the Zoos Support Fund however they are ineligible as they are a large, conservation based zoos and the scheme that was eventually put in place is aimed at smaller zoos.

CEO of Twycross Zoo, Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE explained, “We are pleading with the Government to reconsider our plight, which has quickly now turned into a fight for survival. We have no choice but to fight this hard and are working with all levels of the Government to prove we do indeed provide a safe space for visitors and to highlight the measures we are taking.  Now is not the time to be losing vital contributors, like ourselves, to world conservation and sadly, following this decision, this is now the reality for our zoo.”

A video from Twycross Zoo covers the safety measures they will use once they can re-open

Credit: Twycross Zoo

Both zoos are ready with a range of Covid-19 safe measures to ensure public safety when they can reopen but they need to ensure their animals are cared for until this can occur.

As the government continues to refuse help for the zoo the public have stepped in to support their survival.

Twycross Zoo has run a successful public funding campaign with over £100,000 raised so for. With this equal to less than a quarter of their monthly running costs though they still need support.

You can support Twycross Here – Twycross Zoo Donate

Chester Zoo has also launched a funding campaign which at the time of publication has reached £900,000 and continues to grow. You can donate to this fund through Just Giving here – Chester Zoo | Just Giving.

Learn more about Chester Zoo here – Chester Zoo Website

Learn more about Twycross Zoo here – Twycross Zoo Website

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