Camel Park's optimism for 2022 after staycation boom
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
A family-run farm park is looking ahead to 2022 with optimism after bouncing back from lockdown last year.
Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth, turned to crowdfunding websites in order to raise the funds to feed their animals in 2020 after Covid lockdowns stopped the park from opening for much of their planned season.
But, despite another delayed start to their 2021 season, the popular park returned last year to welcome countless locals and East Anglian holidaymakers.
Owner Ray Smith said: "Apart from the fact we lost a bit of the start of the season because of lockdown, it was a very good year once we opened.
"Because a lot of people stayed in the UK this summer, it reminded me of when I was young and a lot of people would visit places like Great Yarmouth and others down this way.
"There were a lot more people staying around Norfolk and Suffolk last year."
Looking to the year ahead, Mr Smith is "hoping" the 2022 season can begin as planned in April.
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He said: "I live in hope that the vaccines will quell it so people don't get too ill.
"I am hoping tougher restrictions don't come in because that could be killer for us if the season is affected."
Now in the middle of their annual winter closure, the park must feed more than a dozen camels, as well as a number of llamas, alpacas, donkeys, lemurs and meerkats, with no income from visitors.
Mr Smith said: "We just have to try and get enough money during the summer months to pay for all of the feed during the winter.
"A few of our animals have been moved off the park to a friend's farm for the winter, and we have kept all of our big animals like our camels in a large shelter.
"Luckily this winter hasn't been too cold yet, but it could be more to come.
"Our camels, llamas and donkeys are all massive hay eaters. We have to get more in every week.
"We were also lucky enough to get a load of fruit and vegetables from the Co-Op in Leiston this winter.
"We had two van loads given to us from their surplus after Christmas Day and Boxing Day."