The zoo is, of course, a huge 128 acre sites but still, you’ll also notice fewer people than before. All our indoor animal habitats will remain closed, as will our restaurants and cafés, but our outdoor food and drink kiosks will be open, and we’ve added more outdoor picnic areas, while lots of fully trained staff will be dotted around to ensure people keep well apart.
Hard surfaces, such as touchscreen computers will be covered and out of use, and viewing windows will have one meter standoff markings around them, again to prevent touching. Unlike many other charities and organizations which are able to limit their outgoings, the zoo still has incredibly high costs to ensure that each one of the 35,000 animals here receives the exact same level of care and attention they are accustomed to.
Being unable to open and welcome any guests at all for so long now means we’ve been having to do this with little coming in. We have though said many times throughout this crisis that we will beat this, we will bounce back, and we won’t ever stop our fight to prevent extinction.
As ever, we are incredibly grateful to all of our staff, our members, our visitors and our vast support network for helping to protect our fantastic organization through this. Our gates might be closed, but we are still working harder than ever to PREVENT EXTINCTION … And we need your help.
The zoo has been closed to visitors since 21 March, and has been told by the Government to prepare to stay shut “indefinitely” as social distancing measures remain in place across the 128-acre site. On Wednesday bosses launched the Save our Zoo campaign, and revealed the attraction could end the year £24m in debt due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The zoo normally receives 97 per cent of its income from visitors, and needs more than £1.6m a month to cover the cost of its staff, 128-acre site, conservation and breeding projects and animals. It’s been running virtual tours on Facebook in efforts to engage audiences and in March stated it was finalizing plans to reopen with special measures designed to maintain social distancing.
Zoo Keeper Kim Yardley feeds the Sun Bears at Chesterton after the attraction launched a campaign to raise money to help keep it running (Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)Zoos can now reopen in England from 15 June providing they can uphold social distancing rules, with the Prime Minister expected to further update the nation on the easing of restrictions today, Wednesday 10 June. A Downing Street official said: “People are continuing to make huge sacrifices to reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid a second spike, but we know it is tough and where we can safely open up more attractions, and it is supported by the science, we will do so.
Though the easing will be a relief, zoos will be told that they must not reopen indoor exhibitions, such as reptile houses, and must ensure amenities including cafés are takeaway only. In response to the announcement, Zoological Society of London (ZSL) director general Dominic Jersey said he was delighted, adding: “We are waiting to hear more details from the Government, but our zoos are raring to go as soon as we are given the go-ahead.
A week ago, we were in despair, not knowing when we would reopen, or if we could even survive much longer... “There's no denying that we have suffered severe financial damage over the past three months and the road to recovery will be long and uncertain.
But, your incredibly kind donations, animal adoptions and memberships are giving us a vital lifeline. “Over the next few days we'll be letting you know when and how you'll be able to book a ticket to visit.
Last week, the zoo announced it had lost £5 million due to the coronavirus pandemic and that unless the government allowed zoos to reopen the situation would only worsen. But now the government has announced that zoos can safely reopen from next week, with a Number 10 spokesperson saying: “People are continuing to make huge sacrifices to reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid a second spike, but we know it is tough and where we can safely open up more attractions, and it is supported by the science, we will do so.
Credit: PA”This is by necessity a careful process, but we hope the reopening of safari parks and zoos will help provide families with more options to spend time outdoors, while supporting the industry caring for these incredible animals.” The Government has started to ease the lockdown restrictions in Britain with garden centers opening and groups of up to six people able to meet up in public and outdoor private spaces.
In total, visitor revenue makes up 97 percent of its income and therefore the closure of the zoo has had a devastating impact on business. “Our conservationists have continued to prevent extinction, our virtual days have cheered up the nation, and our learning resources have helped out thousands of homeschooling families.
“Not being able to open, despite being a huge outdoor site with all the necessary safety measures in place, is having a devastating impact of the future survival of this much-loved charity zoo. “But ensuring that each one of the 35,000 animals at the zoo is receiving the best possible care, every single day, comes at a huge financial cost.
Installing self-scanning ticket lanes Installing floor markings and one-way systems Undertaking multiple cleaning Implementing hand sanitization points Putting up a huge amount of signage and protective screens in all the key locations and service areas. Some National Trust sites and other businesses have started to reopen this week, however, zoos remain closed.
A spokesperson from Colchester Zoo previously told the Daily Mirror: “We think that being able to re-open in July would be wonderful but this could go on until September or October, we could not last until then, so to survive we will need to approach banks to help us out.” London Zoo has also warned it may be forced to close permanently as despite furloughing its 280 staff and cutting salaries of others, it still costs £2.3m a month to feed and care for all the animals.
The next time the legislation was due to be reviewed was not until the end of this month, which had meant the animal attractions would not be able to reopen until July 4 at the very earliest. The U-turn has been hugely welcomed by ChesterZoo's chief operating officer Jamie Christen, who has confirmed the zoo will reopen on Monday, June 15.
“But the unwavering support of the public, our members, those MPs who listened to us and backed our corner, and our global community has completely humbled us. There’s no denying that the zoo has suffered severe financial damage over the past three months and the road to recovery will be long and uncertain.
He will also announce the easing of restrictions on outdoor attractions where people remain in their cars, such as safari parks and drive-in cinemas, because the risk of spreading the disease is lower outside. A Downing Street official said: “People are continuing to make huge sacrifices to reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid a second spike, but we know it is tough and where we can safely open up more attractions, and it is supported by the science, we will do so.
The PM's father, Stanley Johnson, had earlier joined calls for zoos to reopen as soon as possible” after they were ordered to close when the lockdown was imposed on March 23. Though the easing will be a relief, zoos will be told that they must not reopen indoor exhibitions, such as reptile houses, and must ensure amenities including cafés are take-away only.
He added: “Zoos and aquariums in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will still be facing significant challenges, and we will be working hard to achieve positive outcomes in these nations.” Following huge public pressure, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to announce on Wednesday, June 15, that all zoos will be allowed to reopen as part of the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown.
A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Debra) spokesman added that while zoos had not been included in the list of outdoor ticketed venues that can reopen, work “to understand how and when” they may be able to was “ongoing”. Mr Christen, the zoo's chief operating officer, said not being included on the list “flicked a switch for us and, heartbreaking, our lights are now flickering”.
Mr Christen said the zoo, which welcomed two million people in 2019, normally gets 97% of its income from visitors and needed more than £1.6m a month to cover the cost of its staff, 128-acre site, conservation and breeding projects and 35,000 animals. The Labor MP, in a joint letter with party colleagues Chris Matheson, who represents Chester, and Weaver Vale's Mike Amesbury, has called for the government to take action to save the zoo.
“Not being able to open, despite being a huge outdoor site with all the necessary safety measures in place, is having a devastating impact of the future survival of this much-loved charity zoo. Chesterton, the most visited zoo in the UK with more than two million people passing through its gates in 2019, is a registered conservation and education charity.
“We plan to heavily limit visitor numbers, we’ve installed self-scanning ticket lanes, floor markings, one-way systems, multiple cleaning and hand sanitization points, a huge amount of signage and protective screens in all of our key locations and service areas. “Much smaller, private gardens are opening up this week, which is positive as the great outdoors is proven to offer benefits to mental health and wellbeing.
ChesterZoo’s 80 global projects are fighting to prevent the extinction of highly threatened species both in the UK and in all corners of the world. Mr Christen added: “We are not prepared to give up this fight and are continually lobbying government across all relevant departments, at all levels.