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Government set to give region’s zoos a ‘fighting chance of survival’

PUBLISHED: 22:30 09 June 2020

Africa Alive and Banham Zoo hope to reopen around July. Picture: Nick Butcher

Africa Alive and Banham Zoo hope to reopen around July. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Two of the region’s zoos have said reopening will give them a ‘fighting chance of survival’ as the government is set to announce they can open doors from June 15.

Boris Johnson is set to annouce that zoos, such as Banham Zoo and Africa Alive!, will reopen from June 15. Pic: ArchantBoris Johnson is set to annouce that zoos, such as Banham Zoo and Africa Alive!, will reopen from June 15. Pic: Archant

Boris Johnson will reveal zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas can reopen in England from next week during the daily briefing from Downing Street tomorrow (Wednesday June, 10).

Under pressure from zoos warning they face an exponential threat, the prime minister will say at they can reopen as long as they can uphold social distancing rules.

The Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), which runs Banham Zoo in Norfolk and Africa Alive! in Suffolk, welcomed the news but said both sites would not reopen until around July 1, with the exact date to be confirmed, to allow for a deep clean.

It comes as the ZSEA said the zoos were on the brink of collapse if reopening was delayed until August.

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: PA Video/PA WirePrime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: PA Video/PA Wire

They had previously announced they were cutting almost 70 jobs after losing £1.5 in admissions takings since lockdown.

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Now, though, the ability to reopening means the zoos will have a ‘fighting chance of survival’ according to managing director Claudia Roberts.

But the restructuring and cost cutting measures will still go ahead to cover the loss of income during the period of closure since lockdown .

Ms Roberts said: “We are delighted to finally have clarity on when we can reopen Banham Zoo and Africa Alive!. It doesn’t however mean that we can reopen on June 15 because we need to do this safely and do a deep clean of both zoos first. We will plan to open on or around July 1 and we will confirm the exact date as soon as possible.

“Unfortunately the proposed restructure and cost cutting we announced two weeks ago will still need to go ahead because we have lost so much income during the period of closure since lockdown. However, with this news about reopening we know that we have a fighting chance of survival.”

“Thank you to everyone in our communities who is fundraising and making donations. Your help has been incredible and we will need this support to continue for us going forward so that we can rebuild the future for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive.”

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.

“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.”


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