The owner of two zoos said he was on course to transfer them into the hands of a charitable trust in the New Year, despite having to wait for a thumbs up from the Charity Commission.

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Proposals to move the privately-run Banham Zoo, near Attleborough, and Africa Alive, near Lowestoft, to the management of a newly formed Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA) are set to take place on January 1, if they receive the backing of the government quango.

However, Martin Goymour said they were still “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s” over the biggest change in the history of the two attractions.

The director added that he was “hopeful” of transferring the two East Anglian zoos on schedule after applying for charitable trust status last month.

“Things are progressing and the Charity Commission has indicated that things are okay and there are a few alterations to the wording of one of the documents, which we are changing and the starting up of bank accounts and lease agreements are ongoing.”

“This is a major step for the long-term future of Banham Zoo and Africa Alive and we are not rushing into it and it has taken years of thought lots of paperwork to establish it. Everything looks good for January 1,” he said.

Mr Goymour said there would be no job losses amongst the 150 staff and visitors should benefit from cheaper admission prices under the charitable trust, which would operate the zoos under a 99-year lease.

He added that there had been a positive response from staff and visitors after the plans were announced last month and six trustees had been lined up to sit on the ZSEA board.

“All the members of staff I have spoken to have been extremely positive and are looking forward to it. We have 7,000 season ticket holders and regular visitors and the feedback has been extremely positive and supportive,” he said.

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