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Camel Park to reopen after crowdfunding boost

PUBLISHED: 14:51 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:26 11 June 2020

Ray Smith with animals at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park Oasis

Ray Smith with animals at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park Oasis

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A family-run farm park which turned to crowdfunding websites to be able to feed their animals is to reopen later this month.

Goats at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park OasisGoats at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park Oasis

Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth, will welcome visitors from Saturday, June 27, with Boris Johnson set to give the green light to zoos and safari parks to reopen in England from Monday, June 15.

While owner Ray Smith welcomed the announcement, he said the plans had come “out of the blue,” with the park taking time to make sure visitors will be safe before reopening.

He said: “It was a bit of a shock hearing that we could reopen from Monday. We were of the understanding there would be a meeting next week with a view to reopening on July 4, so Monday came out of the blue.

“I’m glad we are allowed to reopen but Monday will be a bit quick for us because we have got to put certain things in place and we need to be safe about it.

Alpacas at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park OasisAlpacas at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park Oasis

“It would be a bit crazy to try and cram everything into a couple of days.

“We ordered special signs for distancing and have been kept in suspense about whether the guidance would be one metre distance or two.”

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Initially, Mr Smith had planned on reopening on June 20 following the announcement, although has decided to wait until the following week to ensure all safety measures are in place.

Meerkats at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park OasisMeerkats at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park Oasis

The park is usually open from around Easter until October, but were unable to open as planned this year following the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Smith said: “I am pleased because we have been waiting for a long time to be able to do something. We are logical and we don’t want to cause problems so we want to get it right.

“In a lot of ways I don’t see why we couldn’t reopen sooner.

“We are outdoors and our paths are very wide so there is more than enough space to socially distance, especially when you see people so close at some parks and beaches.”
Mr Smith had applied for the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) on March 23, but delays processing the application saw Mr Smith launch a crowdfunding plea to be able to raise the funds to feed their animals.

A Lemur at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park OasisA Lemur at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park Oasis

The park has 18 camels, as well as a number of llamas, alpacas, donkeys, lemars and meerkats.

“The appeal has gone really well and we have had the loan come through last week so everything is looking up and we are hoping there are no more setbacks.

“In the present climate you can’t get too excited, but it seems to be sliding in our favour.”


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