Posted April 8, 2020 in News
An Easter like no other…
We are now days away from Easter 2020.
A very strange strange feeling, the zoo will be closed to visitors, something we have not experienced since taking over in 1983, possibly even since the zoo opened its doors since the 60’s.
We find it difficult to hold normal daily conversations, meetings as a team, or to plan much for the future – perhaps just a state of limbo.
Some staff have gone off on Furlough, many remain in the animal department, maintenance and other important sectors adhering to the rules with great care and the happy news I can report is up to now, all of our employees are safe and healthy.
Keeping the zoo and you, the public, in touch at large has been exciting and given everyone some impetus keeping many busy and engaged with a degree of success.
It is where you appreciate the multi-skills of the Animal Care Team being zoo keepers obviously but they can switch to being a presenter, interviewers and actors too showing great camera skills.
How can we acknowledge and thank the support we have received since closing down from so many members of the public including some lovely words of support but also some generous donations.
We will publish the final amount raised at a later stage but how grateful and privileged we are that under extremely difficult circumstances people are so generous and willing to help us secure the future of the zoo.
We do know this is a time when so many organisations need and deserve financial support. We are very grateful people have chosen the zoo and we will ensure every penny is spent wisely.
I can report that all the funding allocated to the many worldwide projects we support have been made, plus last week we completed the payment of the wages of staff who work on the Private Nature Reserve in South Africa, UmPhafa.
This is so important as one pay packet will feed up to 12 people, either family or even neighbours that need support during such a hard time, so it is comforting to know we are helping local people to UmPhafa so much.
All our zoo suppliers have also been paid and we are up to date, all of this has been achieved with our own money originally available that was earmarked for development cost but transferred to ensure we meet all of our financial obligations.
This crisis is life changing, we have to learn from what is happening and adjust.
Easter is an important time of year within the hospitality industry, always hoping for a good start for the year with good numbers for Easter.
As Easter approaches we are reminded of what we would be usually doing at the moment in preparation.
We have to always bring something new to our visitors at Easter so the building department work extremely hard to ensure completion for Good Friday.
For this year we wanted the new ticket office building and the new guest services office to be ready. We also upgraded the Cherry crowned mangabeys indoor enclosure but we really have been affected and for the first time, Easter will go ahead without the completion of any projects.
Any bank holiday can be challenging but Easter is always special as, weather permitting, it can be the busiest part of the year.
It would not be unusual for a project to be completed the day before Good Friday. There is a great deal of excitement and challenge on Good Friday and it is run with military precision, everyone is in their positions; catering, retail, keepers, administration but we should not forget car park attendants who are always prepared and ready once the gates open.
Long queues of cars drive in and need to be parked with speed and efficiency but this is just one department, all departments are geared up like a well oiled machine ready for the challenge.
Bank holidays are very long working days for everyone, from six in the morning for some until perhaps seven or eight for others. This is what is required for us to deliver a quality product and a service of the highest level, but sometimes it is not always easy.
One of the difficulties is assessing how many employees will not attend on the day but still being able to cope. So when you get home and put your feet up it is always well deserved. Then we look forward to the next days Saturday and then Easter Sunday & Monday.
I hope you will keep safe, enjoy Easter the best you can under the circumstances but remember no rules must be broken.
A huge thank you from me, all of our employees and the animals of course who are doing very well at the moment, for your support, kindness and generosity we will never forget it and we will remain positive by saying we will see you again very soon.
Take care and we wish you a Happy Easter.
Written by Managing Director, Dr D A Tropeano
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