The pandemic has already cost the charity £5m.
Chester Zoo, Cheshire’s animal charity and zoo which is home to around 35,000 animals, has announced that its gate could remain closed ‘indefinitely’, despite successfully implementing COVID-safe measures across the site.
As the UK lockdown begins to ease, the government has announced gradual plans to kickstart the economy, allowing restaurants and non-essential shops to re-open with new social distancing rules – however, as some business types have been given the greenlight, zoos and other activity centres have been left hanging regarding a potential date to welcome back customers.
Revealing its financial situation today, Chester Zoo has announced that they will continue to lose over £1m a month, despite being eligible for the government’s furlough scheme and cutting costs where able. The statement revealed that the zoo costs around £465,000 each month to run, with costs going towards animal care, food and maintenance, as well as funding 80 global conservation projects that work to prevent the extinction of endangered animals. The zoo, which is the most visited in the UK, is also ineligible for government support during this time, and as a result, is calling on the public to help save Chester Zoo.
Jamie Christon, the zoo’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) said: “As the UK’s biggest and most popular charity zoo, we’ve tried to stay positive during this pandemic. 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. We wanted to remain a beacon of hope.
“But now, the government has ordered us to stay closed indefinitely and Chester Zoo is very much fighting for its future. This change in law has flicked a switch for us and, heartbreakingly, our lights are now flickering. Not being able to open, despite being a huge outdoor site with all the necessary safety measures in place, is having a devastating impact on the future survival of this much-loved charity zoo. We’re heading towards debt in excess of £24m by the end of 2020 – this will financially cripple us.
“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. Not being able to open, with such massive outgoings, puts the future of the zoo itself at risk of extinction.”
As the charity and zoo continues to suffer, they’re now looking to the public to help prevent their own extinction through the remainder of the pandemic, with a number of ways that fans a previous visitors can help. Options include simply making a donation, taking out a membership which you’ll be able to take advantage of when the zoo reopens, and even adopting one of the animals – which will help to fund the important conservation work that the zoo undertakes.