Letter to Zoo Passholders

From Managing Director Dr DA Tropeano

Dear Zoo Passholders,

It is with great sadness but also with a degree of annoyance I am forced to write to all Zoo Passholders for a matter which is extremely important to the survival of Colchester Zoo.

This matter relates to a large number of Zoo Passholders booking a time slot for a day visit but then not turning up, therefore not using the slot they have booked and depriving others, such as other Zoo Passholders and paying visitors, the opportunity to make a visit.

The reason for having to highlight the serious effect of this is because unfortunately we are not talking in dozens but we are talking of hundreds and hundreds of Zoo Passholders making bookings which they are not fulfilling.

We had anticipated this would happen, hence the reason why when we opened the booking system for reopening we only gave a three day time allocation for Passholders to make bookings. After receiving so many negative, so many unwarranted and threatening messages from Passholders, in a moment of weakness and because of the workload we are experiencing we gave in to Passholders and extended their booking time period.

Of course if you have purchased a Zoo Pass you are entitled to come to the zoo every day if you so wish, but it should be understood that these are exceptional circumstances, beyond anyones wish or control, and all of us have to adapt and be grateful that we are fit and healthy so a visit to the zoo is a great experience and we are delighted to be of service but to book and not turn up is detrimental to Colchester Zoo.

If you as a Zoo Passholder book a slot or several slots without the intention to use them, because of the current social distancing in place which only allows a reduced number of visitors into the park, you are depriving not only another Zoo Passholder to be able to make a visit but you are also depriving a paying visitor to come in and support the zoo because you have taken the space.

So what does that mean?

If you followed my letters over the past three months or if you have read my articles in the local media or TV you will be aware that I have always said the survival test begins the day we reopen.

To clarify, the survival of Colchester Zoo will depend on its finances and a very large contribution is made by the paying visitors. If this number falls below what we require to build sufficient finances to keep the zoo going through the whole of the long winter when running costs are much higher, our ability to survive will be compromised.

We need to welcome around 100,000 paying visitors in July and 130,000 in August to ensure we have a fighting chance and by this I mean a chance to survive after making necessary cuts.

Since reopening we are averaging 1,200 paying visitors most days which equates to a paying attendance of around 40,000 a month which is well below what we need to achieve at this time of year.

I’m sure you will feel my frustration and perhaps even my anger but the future of many of my staff is in the balance, so is the future of the zoo. I sincerely hope those Zoo Passholders guilty of over booking feel the pain we feel.

On the other hand, we have had so many people, including Zoo Passholders, who have been so kind, so generous, so understanding and grateful to see the zoo doors opened again that words fail me to express what I feel from the bottom of my heart.

This situation of Zoo Passholders booking and not visiting has become so detrimental to Colchester Zoo – we had one day where 500 Zoo Passholders who had booked and expected to visit simply just did not turn up. I hope that this will explain the extent to which the system is being misused and how unfair it is on so many who are desperately wanting to visit and support the zoo.

I am afraid that we will now have to monitor and look for Zoo Passholders who book a visit but do not turn up and will not hesitate to suspend, for one month, their opportunity to visit and giving others the chance to.

I am terribly sorry and terribly frustrated that at a time when I should begin to see light at the end of the tunnel, instead I have a taste of feeling let down.

So please only book a visit if you intend to visit the zoo, please do not book multiple visits. If you care, please think of your neighbours, think of the people you are depriving but also think of the future survival of the zoo.

Yours sincerely,

Dr DA Tropeano
Managing Zoo Director

Zoo Passholders Please Be Kind.

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