Zoos reveal plans to reopen as lockdown eases

Giraffes at zoos in Norfolk

Banham Zoo in Norfolk and Africa Alive! in Suffolk have announced their reopening plans. - Credit: Simply C Photography

Banham Zoo in Norfolk and Africa Alive! in Suffolk will be open from April 12 for annual pass holders - then to the general public five days later.

Banham Zoo in Norfolk

Banham Zoo in Norfolk - Credit: Simply C Photography

The Zoological Society of East Anglia, which runs both zoos, said the venues would then be open for members of the public to book slots from Saturday, April 17.

It comes as this time last year, the charity was reeling from the national lockdown which led to the two zoos undergoing a substantial restructure and cost-saving measures to ensure their survival.

Since then, it has raised more than £60,531 over 12 months from supporters. The charity also received a lifeline Zoo Animals Fund grant of £752,000 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to cover the cost of animal care and much needed repairs.

Claudia Roberts, joint managing director, said: “We are delighted to be re-opening again and sharing our beautiful open spaces and diverse collection of animals with the community that have supported us so much over the last year. The animals have missed them too.

We recognise that the last lockdown over the winter months has been particularly tough for everyone. As there is a strong connection between nature and wellbeing, we are delighted to offer during the members only week, in recognition of Stress Awareness Month, free entry for one friend."

Camels at zoo in Norfolk

Zoos in Norfolk and Suffolk have announced their reopening plans. - Credit: Simply C Photography

ZSEA also announced that after a career spanning more than 28 years at both zoos, Gary Batters, joint managing director, would be leaving the business to focus on other challenges.

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Chairman of trustees Gerard Smith said: “Gary is very well known for his dedication to conservation and education work, especially with the AEECL (The Lemur Association) where he has been its president since 1993. 

I’m sure that all our staff, volunteers, visitors and animals will join me in thanking Gary for helping to steer us through a very challenging year.”

Claudia Roberts will become chief executive officer from next month.

Covid-safety measures will continue at both zoos – from advanced booking only online to sanitizing stations across the sites. Until further notice, indoor displays will also be closed and guests must visit either with six other people or with one other household.

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