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Zoos will reopen in less than a week – but will they be ready?

PUBLISHED: 16:05 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:25 11 June 2020

At Amazona Zoo preparations are underway (inset) to welcome visitors back to see animals including leopards. Picture: Amazona Zoo/Archant

At Amazona Zoo preparations are underway (inset) to welcome visitors back to see animals including leopards. Picture: Amazona Zoo/Archant

Amazona Zoo/Archant

Zoo bosses have said the green light from government allowing them to reopen “couldn’t have come sooner”.

Benji Cabbell-Manners, new owner of Amazona Zoo, Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYBenji Cabbell-Manners, new owner of Amazona Zoo, Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Westminster confirmed this week that zoos would be allowed to reopen on June 15 – the same day as non-essential shops.

Now zoos across Norfolk are gearing up to reopen having warned earlier this month that they would collapse if they had to remain closed.

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Benjie Cabbell Manners, owner of Amazona Zoo in Cromer, said: “The news that zoos are able to open couldn’t have come quick enough. We aim to open once we have seen the government’s guidelines on opening which will be announced on Saturday.

“Once those guidelines have been established we will work towards those and open as soon as we are able.”

At the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), which runs Banham Zoo and Africa Alive in Lowestoft, preparations are well under way.

Managing director Claudia Roberts said: “A skeleton team is currently working hard to prepare for the safe and responsible re-opening of both Banham Zoo and Africa Alive to the public. Our priority will always be the safety and welfare of our colleagues, animals and customers. It is therefore is essential that everything is in place and proven to be safe before we can reopen our doors to the public. It is hoped this will be from July, although the exact date is still to be confirmed.”
Safety measures will include advanced booking only, toilets being made unisex for one family at a time, and a one way systems at pinch-points around the zoo. 
But Ms Roberts said that the previous ambiguity around non-essential shops reopening but not zoos had been “incredibly frustrating, disappointing, and upsetting”.

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She said: “The charity has already experienced a loss of income of £1.5 million since being shut due to covid-19. In a bid to protect the future of the zoos ZSEA has already announced a major cost cutting programme, with a proposed restructure of the charity. The kindness and generosity we have seen from our community has been truly overwhelming. They have helped us raise £20,000 so far which is amazing - we couldn’t have done this without them. This covers just three days of feed and care for the animals, so the support of the public is needed now more than ever.”
You can support the ZSEA at: justgiving.com/campaign/zsea.


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