Unfortunately, COVID-19 has caused widespread zoo closures throughout the whole of the UK, and without these places having any sort of financial income, charities and zoos have warned that they could be forced to rehome their animals. Zoos are mostly sanctuaries and a safe habitat for endangered animals, and rehoming them all will prove to be a very difficult task.
As a whole, a zoo’s main source of income will be down to selling day tickets, memberships, retail sales and catering sales; these are now all things they are not receiving. Initially the government put in place a COVID funding package for zoos, it was announced that a total of £100 million would be given to zoos across the country to help them in this time of crisis.
However, considering there are 300 licensed zoos across the UK, only 34 of them actually received this funding, this is due to the scheme’s eligibility restrictions meaning a lot of places couldn’t access the funding. This also means a total of only £6 million out of the potential £100 million was spent on the zoo funding scheme. This funding is also no longer accessible and it was cut off from the 26th of February, leaving £94 million unspent.
BIAZA (the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) are asking for a Zoo Recovery Fund to be set up with the remaining amount of money that wasn’t spent from the previous zoo funding scheme. If the government doesn’t rethink its COVID funding package, animals could face rehoming. There are many issues that come along with having to rehome mostly exotic animals, the process of moving animals is actually extremely complex and the process can take months, if not years!
Somewhere close to home, Marwell Zoo, is also suffering in this crisis. Marwell Zoo is a 140-acre wildlife park that is located between Eastleigh and Winchester. It homes hundreds of animals, including endangered Amur tigers, snow leopards and white rhinos, as well as giraffes, gibbons and penguins. They have said that their “animals need your help”, and with the care and welfare of the animals having to be their highest priority, they are heavily relying on donations at the moment, as well as relying on a Zoo Recovery Fund to be introduced.
Marwell Zoo has teams of keepers, vets, scientists, maintenance workers and landscapers; and they have already reduced non-essential expenses, but it’s still not enough to help them during these trying times.
They are asking for donations through their JustGiving page; to donate or find out more about the campaign, please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/supportMarwell
Something you can do to help other than giving money!
- You can write to your MP calling for a Zoo Recovery Fund! BIAZA have created some templates to make writing to your MP easy. There are two types of template available, one being for members of the public and another for member organisations.
These templates and information on how to find and send your letter to your MP can be found on: https://biaza.org.uk/campaigns/detail/yourzoosneedyou-write-to-your-mp
- Use and look at the hashtag #YourZoosNeedYou – this holds a lot of information about the situation and it’s a great way of raising awareness!
To put it bluntly, zoos are in trouble and we need to support them in any way we can. It’s crucial to introduce a Zoo Recovery Fund, so get on writing to your MP and spreading the news on the hashtag! Hopefully the idea of a recovery fund is the light at the end of the tunnel for our zoos, and all of the animals will soon again have a solid place to live and be cared for, without the threat of having to be re-homed.
Written by Missy Bennett