Following a change in the law on 31st May 2020, Zoo’s, including Twycross Zoo, were added to the list of venues that must remain closed, despite never being added to this list previously.
Twycross Zoo has made no secret over the last few months of the financial difficulty they find themselves in due to COVID-19. While many businesses and organisations can significantly reduce costs, Twycross Zoo has over 125 species of animal to care for and therefore many of their costs remain, despite their income from visitors having dried up completely.
It costs over half a million pounds a month to keep the zoo operating and providing the high quality of care for their endangered animals that the zoo, quite rightly, refuse to compromise on.
As a charity Twycross Zoo held some money in reserves, but much of their income was reinvested each year to support conservation projects, both at the zoo and abroad, aimed at protecting many of the worlds most endangered species. Reserves have now all but been used and the zoo finds itself entering a period of massive uncertainty as it saddles itself with enormous debts for many years to come, and clings on for survival.
Over the last few weeks the zoo has been preparing to reopen safely with significant changes and measures put in place so visitors could enjoy a safe day out on its 100-acre site. Twycross Zoo has watched on as beaches and parks have opened with very limited measures in place, sure that they would be able to welcome visitors safely soon and therefore gain a much-needed injection of income.
Twycross Zoo is confident the public will be safe at the zoo, with measures to reduce any risks including:
– Restricted the number of visitors on site
– Online only bookings with timed arrival slots
– Closure of many indoor areas
– Implementing a one-way route around the zoo
– Enforcing social distancing across the site
– Placing multiple hygiene stations throughout the zoo
Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE, CEO of Twycross Zoo had this to say: “This is a such a frustrating time for all at Twycross Zoo, and this decision to close us ‘indefinitely’ leaves us fighting for our survival as a conservation charity and zoo.
“Since the 23rd of March, we have remained closed and been keen to play our part to protect the public, our staff and animals from any risks. As the infection rate has lowered over recent weeks and lockdown restrictions had slowly started to lift, we were hopeful that Twycross Zoo along with other large rural conservation zoo’s, may be able to re-open safely.
“We are ready with a plethora of measures to ensure everyone’s safety and strongly believe that our zoo would provide a safe place for people to enjoy a much-needed day out while providing vital support for conservation and helping secure our survival.
“It is disappointing that large rural conservation zoos, like ours, seem to be being grouped with other venues that maybe can’t manage measures as easily due to the nature of their environment and who present different risk profiles.”
Back in April, Twycross Zoo launched a donations campaign to ‘Celebrate its past and protect its future’, sadly it now seems that it is not only about protecting the future, but indeed saving the 57-year old zoo from extinction. This campaign has so far raised over £100,000. Twycross Zoo is delighted with the support it has received and the kindness shown by the public towards them during this difficult time, but these donations alone will not secure their future.
The zoo had hoped it would receive some financial support in the way of a grant from the Government, through the Zoo Support Fund, which Twycross Zoo helped lobby for, however, it does not support larger conservation zoos and is reserved to protect smaller organisations.
Sharon continued: “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.”
Twycross Zoo has relaunched its donation campaign today as it fights for survival and is asking anyone who can help, however small to donate to this cause. Donate online here.
For further details on the safety measures in place for visitors when Twycross Zoo is allowed to reopen click here.