Posted March 22, 2020 in News
Letter from the directors of Colchester Zoo to all supporters, visitors and passholders.
It is with great pain and sorrow I have had to take the decision to close Colchester Zoo to visitors from the morning of Monday 23rd March.
The decision after consideration is taken with the interest of everyone, visitors, members of staff and our social responsibilities.
The use of the word sorrow depicts how difficult I view the current situation and where we are in terms of managing the disease along with the impact to people, jobs and the future of everyone young and old.
We are in the unknown, we don’t know what the future for the zoo will be. Will we survive? When will we re-open? Will we have sufficient funds to continue? How will recovery be? Will it be fairly straight forward or will we be presented with more difficulties? Will this world recover or will it become a different world?
We have good experience in closure as I recall back in the 2000s Colchester was one of the few zoos having to close down because of a nearby farm having been infected by the Foot and Mouth disease.
I then looked at it as a challenge, but one we could overcome. We knew the enemy, how close it was, its movements and patterns, and in spite of criticism I felt DEFRA did a good job under difficult circumstances.
Coronavirus will strike anywhere, anytime and of course it is aimed at humans not animals, so hugely different to Foot and Mouth.
During Foot and Mouth we were also closed for weeks, we recovered with the help of our amazing supporters. I recall people sending donations, children breaking their piggy banks and donating whatever they had to the zoo.
On re-opening morning the queue started early, it was a very long queue of excited people waiting for the doors to open and at the very front was Sir Bob Russell, then our local MP. When I asked him to come in as my guest he replied quite empathically “I will queue and pay like everyone else.”
The experience was something we have never forgotten. The opening was smooth with the help of our then excellent and dedicated staff and within a year or so we were able to continue with the development of our planned projects.
Colchester Zoo today is a very different animal to the then Colchester Zoo. We now have over 450 staff employed, and massive commitments to looking after and running conservation and education projects all over the world who depend on our help for their survival.
To you all who have purchased tickets or Animal Experiences, please rest assured as of today we will be working hard to reach out and re-organise your experience, no-one will lose out. Gold Passholders, you too will not lose out but gain, please click here for more information.
Whilst we are closed it does not mean our teams will stop working, we have our program of improvements which will continue and when you return I hope you will see a difference which you can enjoy.
The Animal Care Team of course will carry on their excellent work as usual as will our Veterinarians.
Closure does not mean everything will stop, we will still be here working hard looking after our animals and our beloved zoo with affection and dedication.
Please visit the website and social media as whilst closed we want to bring the zoo to you and we pray it will bring a smile to your face, some comfort and happiness during this very unusual time in our lives.
We will return or certainly will do our very best to be back in spite of this huge challenge. We hope that just like Foot and Mouth you will be there on the day we re-open, at the front of the queue to give us your much needed support.
I am going to ask you to take good care of yourselves and your families during this time. Please follow NHS advice and be responsible so we can eradicate this disease as soon as possible and hope we return to normality with a smile.
From the directors of Colchester Zoo
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