MP praises ‘tremendous’ zoo amid calls for more support

PUBLISHED: 15:52 12 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:52 12 June 2020

The Southern White Rhinos at Africa Alive! in Kessingland. Photo: ANTONY KELLY

The Southern White Rhinos at Africa Alive! in Kessingland. Photo: ANTONY KELLY

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A coastal MP has welcomed the green light for a “tremendous” zoo to reopen, but called for more support to help them survive.

 Waveney Suffolk Conservative MP Peter Aldous Photo: UK Parliament Waveney Suffolk Conservative MP Peter Aldous Photo: UK Parliament

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, June 11, Waveney MP Peter Aldous hailed Africa Alive!, but urged government ministers to reassess the zoos support fund to help as many zoos as possible as weeks of enforced closures come to an end.

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas can reopen in England from June 15.

The Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), which runs Banham Zoo in Norfolk and Africa Alive! in Suffolk, welcomed the news but said both sites would not reopen until around July 1 to allow for a deep clean.

Mr Aldous said: “Tourism is very important on the Suffolk and the Norfolk coast, reaching out into the Norfolk and Suffolk broads.

“The announcement this week was extremely welcome, and it is very good news.

“I think Africa Alive! would say that it gives it a fighting chance of survival, and that is wonderful.

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“Animals are not like rides. You cannot turn them off, and flexible furloughing is therefore very important.”

Mr Aldous hailed the park as a “tremendous tourist attraction” for the area, with the reopening plans coming as the ZSEA said the parks were on the brink of collapse if reopening was delayed until August.

Mr Aldous said: “The best part of my job is that each summer, I spend half a day at Africa Alive.

“It is a wonderful experience and probably the thing I look forward to most.

“Zoos used to be very inward-looking, and they are not now. Africa Alive! is outward-looking, and that is what so special about it and why it is a linchpin of the local community and the local economy.

“Africa Alive! does great conservation work, looking after and supporting species from that wonderful continent of Africa.

“I have never been on a safari, and I do not think I ever will, but Africa is there on the doorstep of places like Lowestoft, Beccles and Bungay for people who will never have the opportunity to go and see those animals.

“For so many people in the area I represent, it is their first rung on the employment ladder, and that first job that can lead on to others.”

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