Sea Life centres frustrated at being left out of zoo reopenings

Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary general manager Nigel Croasdale. Picture: Ian Burt

Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary general manager Nigel Croasdale. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Sea Life centres in Norfolk have been left “very frustrated” at still not knowing when they will be able to reopen despite zoos welcoming back visitors.

A European Blacktip Reef Shark at the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary. Picture: Ian Burt

A European Blacktip Reef Shark at the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The tourist attractions, which would normally be visited by hundreds of people a day, say they were disappointed that aquariums were not included in government plans for other animal attractions to reopen this week.

Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton and Great Yarmouth has been shut since March 20 and most of the staff have been furloughed.

MORE: Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! on verge of collapse because of coronavirusOutdoor attractions including zoos and safari parks were told they could reopen as long as they follow social distancing rules, but indoor animal venues, including aquarium, were left out of the announcement.

Getting a closer look at the aquatic animals at Sea Life in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Submitted

Getting a closer look at the aquatic animals at Sea Life in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

Nigel Croasdale, general manager at Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton, said they still did not have a date when the attraction could reopen but are now working towards July.

Speaking on BBC Radio Norfolk, he said: “I have found myself very frustrated and disappointed seeing other types of businesses being able to reopen.


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“We’ve seen garden centres and then non-essential retailers opening, as well as zoos and safari parks, and it is very frustrating because of all the work we have put in place and all the measures that we have been working very hard on to enable us to reopen safely.

The penguin enclosure at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary. Picture: Antony Kelly

The penguin enclosure at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary. Picture: Antony Kelly - Credit: Archant

“We find ourselves very frustrated that we still can’t open. We still don’t have a date when that’s likely to happen.”

MORE: MP praises ‘tremendous’ zoo amid calls for more supportReopened zoos have been told visitor numbers have to be strictly managed with safeguards put in place - that includes “keeping indoor places such as reptile houses closed”.

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Mr Croasdale said the Sea Life Centre was set to introduce changes to the ticketing system with customers required to prebook a time slot, while protective screens had been installed at tills.

He added: “Social distancing is going to be a big challenge. With the 2m rule we are probably going to be trading about 70pc less in August than we normally would. That is going to have a big impact.

“Animal attractions have furloughed the majority of their staff but we still have those that need to be employed to come in and feed the animals and still all the costs of caring for those animals, whether that be heating water or chilling water. It all adds up”

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