Press release

Alex at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo today to celebrate its safe reopening.

Date: 14.04.21

Alex Sobel, shadow minister for Tourism and Heritage, was at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo today to celebrate its safe reopening.

Zoos and other outdoor attractions were able to open again on Monday, as part of England’s roadmap for easing Covid lockdown, and Whipsnade Zoo was a popular destination, quickly selling all tickets.

There were big smiles on the faces of children and adults alike, celebrating the relaxation of lockdown and enjoying a day out with some of the world’s most exotic animals.

But the reality of the pandemic for zoos has not been so sunny. The closures of London and Whipsnade Zoos have meant ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the Zoo, has lost out on £26million of income.

To add to this, the zoo was unable to apply to the government’s Zoo Animals Fund, the £100m fund created to help zoos struggling financially during the pandemic.

This has been the case for all Britain’s not-for-profit conservation zoos, many of which have been forced to lay off staff, apply for expensive commercial loans and rely on public donations to survive.

Alex said:

“It was fantastic to be at Whipsnade today, after it being shut for the last three months. I had a great time meeting all of the animals and the wonderful staff who care for them.
Unfortunately, the government have not provided adequate support for our zoos. The Zoo Animals Fund is completely inaccessible for the majority of zoos and the job retention scheme does not take into consideration the need for animal care, and the fact that animals cannot be furloughed.
That said, It’s a testament to the fantastic care provided by staff that the animals are thriving: I’m quite envious of them living in blissful ignorance of the global pandemic!”.

The Zoo, set over 600 acres of countryside, is operating at a reduced capacity and with extensive safety measures in place to protect visitors. As well as a contactless ticketing system and clear social distancing guidelines, the zoo has hand sanitizer and handwash stations at regular stops around the site.

Find out more about Whipsnade Zoo here: https://www.zsl.org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo

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