When will zoos reopen? Date UK zoos and safari parks can open as lockdown is relaxed

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced when zoos and safari parks can reopen in England at the latest lockdown review on 23 June

Friday, 26th June 2020, 11:35 am

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When will zoos open?

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As lockdown restrictions are being eased across England, people are enjoying being able to meet with friends and family outdoors (Photo: Shutterstock)

Boris Johnson outlined the next steps in the easing of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the House of Commons on Tuesday (23 June).

The announcement included dates for the reopening of the hospitality sector in England, inclduing outdoor attractions.

Zoos and safari parks in England are permitted to reopen from 15 June, providing social distancing measures are in place. As of 4 July, indoor attractions at aquariums, zoos, safari parks, farms and wildlife centres will also be allowed to reopen.

Matt Hancock recently said that he hoped zoos would be able to reopen in a safe way, stating: “So I very much hope that we can get the zoos reopen in a safe and covid-secure way but of course, like all these things, it’s got to be done in a way that doesn’t allow the R to go above one and doesn’t allow the virus to get out of control.”

A spokesperson from Colchester Zoo previously told the Daily Mirror: “We think that being able to re-open in July would be wonderful but this could go on until September or October, we could not last until then, so to survive we will need to approach banks to help us out.”

Various zoos, including the UK’s biggest zoo Chester Zoo, and London Zoo, have both reported financial struggles during the ongoing pandemic.

Chester Zoo had previously been told to prepare to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

A statement from the zoo read: “Zoo bosses say they have been told by government representatives to prepare for their gates to remain closed 'indefinitely', despite being 'Covid secure' and able to safely limit numbers and enforce social distancing rules – something that public UK beaches, parks and other beauty spots cannot do.”

The zoo revealed that the coronavirus pandemic has already cost the wildlife charity a huge £5m.

Visitor revenue makes up 97 percent of the zoo’s income so the closure has had a huge impact on business.

The zoo’s 35,000 animals cost £465,000 a month to care for. Additional outgoings for utilities, insurance and more on top of this means that it needs £1.6m a month in order to keep going.

Jamie Christon, Chester Zoo's chief operating officer, had said: "Not being able to open, with such massive outgoings, puts the future of the zoo itself at risk of extinction”.

London Zoo had also warned it may be forced to close permanently. Although it has furloughed its 280 staff and reduced the salaries of other staff, it still costs £2.3m a month to feed and care for all its animals.

Have zoos reopened in Europe?

Zoos were among the first tourist attractions to reopen in many countries, including Denmark and Germany, when their lockdown restrictions began to ease.

Now they are reopening in France, Italy, the Czech Republic and some Spanish regions too.

In Belgium, the Park Pairi Daiza is opening its doors to a maximum of 5,000 visitors instead of its usual 30,000. Visitors will wear masks and they will socially distance, following carefully marked one-way pedestrian walkways.

Zoo spokesman, from the Park Pairi Daiza Mathieu Godefroy, told the BBC, "Life goes on inside a zoo and it costs a lot of money if there are no visitors to pay for it.

"During confinement, we estimate we lost €100,000 (£90,000; $110,000) every day, for the whole year of 2020 we hope to limit our loss to €30m."