Dear Supporter,

The big announcement has been made and it is official, zoos are able to re-open …finally.

This is the news all zoos wanted to hear, this is the news zoos needed so we must be grateful to all the people who have written to the Government and all the MPs who have lobbied on our behalf. Without this, zoos themselves could have become an endangered species.

We had set ourselves a target to be ready for opening the second or third week of June as we believed re-opening would be allowed on July 4th at the same time as the hospitality industry.

We are almost ready to open now but…

Whilst we are grateful, we need to understand the guidance the Government will set on how we are going to be allowed to open and run the zoo.

The problem being these details are to be communicated to us on Saturday 13th June thus giving us only two days to prepare if we were to open on the 15th June.

We have carried out a lot of common-sense work to ensure safety and hopefully compliance as well as having the ability to run the park efficiently and deal with any situation that may arise.

However, some of the questions we need answers to are; will visitors be allowed inside buildings? Will social distancing be one meter, one and a half or two meters? How many visitors number wise will we be allowed to have daily? These are the sort of questions and answers we need before we can confirm we are really ready to open.

We will embrace the re-opening and there is the buzz and excitement in everyone’s eyes here because of it. It is fair to say we have gone through a roller coaster of emotions but right now I can see there is willingness and energy in the true Colchester Zoo style to re-open and put all the horrors we have experienced behind us.

I can now confirm the official re-opening date is not Monday 15th June but Thursday 18th June.

However, we will be hosting a special pre-opening day on the 17th June which is accessed by invitation only. This day has been reserved for the hundreds of people who over the past three months have given us unbelievable support, inspiration and comfort when our moral was low. So, by hosting this pre-opening day this is a gesture of a much needed thank you. We would have loved to have been able to invite everyone who has donated and supported us through these difficult times but unfortunately due to the capacity allowed within the park we had to select donors and supporters randomly to be fair and provide limited tickets per person.

We will use this day as a trial day just to gain experience on how to best run the new experience for when we open to visitors – a way to sharpen our pencil if you wish and to ensure we perform well and cope with all the new regulations.

So to confirm we will open to everyone on Thursday 18th June, however you will very soon be able to purchase your E-ticket in advance as you will not be able to purchase a ticket on the day at the zoo. Gold Passholders will also need to reserve a ticket prior to their visit, they will need to present this ticket together with the support of their valid Zoo Pass to be able to enter the zoo.

These new measures are required simply because there will be a cap on our attendance number imposed to us by the Government in order to comply. For more information on the measures in place for both your safety, our staff and animals please visit our Re-opening plan on our website.

Again I am not yet certain on how many people we will be allowed to enter the park in any one day at this but all will be revealed on Saturday.

We are updating the zoo website all the time so please, if you intend to visit, and I hope you do, or would like to buy a Gold Pass or an Animal Experience, the best place to receive all the information you need is the website.

Every year, July and August, are traditionally two of our best months attendance wise. For example, we can receive 130,000 visitors during August, however, social distancing could have an impact and only allow 2,000 visitors a day or 60,000 a month, a huge reduction in our attendance and of course income.

The negative financial impact will continue because of the lower numbers, the lower price too but we also expect a large reduction of sales within both our catering and retail outlets. Therefore, please continue to support us the best you can, including by visiting as often as you can.

Every penny we make is always reinvested into the zoo, improving both animal and visitors facilities but also participating or funding conservation; important conservation projects in many countries of the world.

This expected loss of income has meant survival will be a challenge. We will need to be very careful with our spending but also ensure we build reserves should the Pandemic return we will be able to cope better.

We no longer will be able to make the huge investment we had planned, instead we will concentrate on smaller but at the same time important improvement projects which will enhance the zoo, keep it fresh and interesting whilst also improving facilities for animals and public alike.

So we have survived and expect to be here for the long term ensuring Colchester Zoo remains one of the top zoos in this country but we must be prudent in all our dealings.

You will find your visit experience will not to be what you have been used to in the past but please remember the Pandemic has changed our life and I am afraid changed, at least for now, the zoo as we know it.

We have invested in a new APP and I strongly encourage you to download it prior to your visit. This will be live within the next few days and will prove to be a very important and necessary tool as well as update you on what is new and what is happening on the day of your visit.

This has been a really truly difficult experience, one we all will remember but there are signs of life as we know it returning, we can say we have fought our battle and have survived.

It is a time to appreciate how lucky we are to be here, to look forward to a new life with new hopes and new challenges but we must never forget the trail of destruction and loss over an enduring three months.

It is time to reflect, to know precisely what Home represents, who your friends are, to think about the people you love so much and what life means to you.

Still ahead remains the unknown; what will tomorrow, the next week, the next month be like? Will it be misery or delight? – We live, we hope, we pray for the good.

I hope you take care of yourself and please remember a visit at the zoo to see the animals will help them and help us so we look forward to having you back.

Thank you again for yesterday and for tomorrow.

Your continued support is still critical.

To donate to the Zoo Operating Fund please click here.

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