Thank you for your support

Please read below a letter to all friends and supporters from Colchester Zoo’s Managing Zoo Director, Dr DA Tropeano.

Dear Supporter and friend,

Following the long lasting COVID experience it is a relief to see the heart of the zoo pumping again.

We are open, trading again and all seems to be going, at the moment, in the right direction.

There are still huge financial concerns over the future of zoos because of the past few months events and Colchester Zoo is in the mix. We now have to trade with much reduced visitor numbers to comply with the current social distancing protocols.

This has reduced our ability to enjoy our normally healthy July numbers, so we have to carefully ensure we strike a balance between allowing the number of paying visitors and the demands of Gold Passholders.

Gold Passholders have not been mistreated, this last 2 weeks alone we have welcomed around 10,000 members which is the highest number in this period, ever.

If you feel we have not delivered the right service to you I can assure you this is a challenge all attractions have faced but what I do know is we have fared extremely well against others when it comes to the level and ability to cope with the huge demand.

We always review carefully and are not worried to make changes or adjust not only number and time slots but to also extend opening hours to maximise the number whilst not forgetting our responsibility to maintain social distancing measures.

We have invested in new software to give us some solutions particularly a virtual queuing system to ensure we can manage the huge demand we have for tickets. I am also certain some of you will report some negativity but I weigh up the overall situation and feel we continue to respond and have done the very best we can do within the limitations imposed on us.

One weakness is that we have not been able to communicate with all of our Gold Passholders due to the lack of Email addresses submitted. This is something we are looking at as we feel there is much to gain. Please be aware we need Gold Passholder Email addresses so we can update you with information relating to your Zoo Pass. We will not add you to our general mailing list unless you would like to be added.

If you are one of those Gold Passholders who felt my poetic letter was unjust, I can assure you, following hundreds of cancellations after this letter was sent, we have been able to accommodate many of you given the new spaces available.

Since then the flow has improved but even now some people are still trying to cancel unwanted bookings.

I know other zoos are facing the same issues and I am certain you have heard of the ‘No Shows’ which are also affecting many restaurants.

The staff have performed absolutely amazingly and given the zoo everything they could, I am very proud of them.

I agree and know you can always do better and we continuously review our performance trying to identify and correct our weak points.

We are running towards August, usually the month where financially we benefit the most with our highest attendance.

This will be the crunch.

Normally we would enjoy 130,000 paying visitors plus Gold Passholder visits. This year we only expect 60,000 therefore our income is going to be really affected making our survival target this winter extremely tough.

Not only do we lose income at the entrance but all secondary spending such as catering or retail will suffer.

Therefore, I am going to beg you and hope you will visit this winter too as this will be crucial to our survival plan.

Halloween as we knew it will cease but will be reviewed to a lower scale without compromising social distancing, however even if low key, it will be a new experience for you to enjoy and will bring us much needed revenue. We expect Christmas to be reviewed too.

I need to reiterate, we have done the very best to be efficient, to accommodate as many as we can but the priority of social distancing has had a real effect on our ability.

Now the best way you can help is by visiting, to purchase a Gold Pass, visit a catering unit and buy a lovely present from our gift shop. Make a donation if you can. This is how you can help us in these unprecedented times.

This is also the time for us as an organisation and as individual people, to recognise how much you good people out there have been instrumental in keeping us going and perhaps even saved us from disappearing. We have, like many others, faced so many challenges, dilemmas, tough decisions and I am glad we have managed to save our sanity and are here trying to deal with unprecedented challenges to please everyone.

I have the faith we will get through, survive and flourish. You learn a lot during tough times including who you are, I know I will come out of this a better and stronger man.

Everyone connected with the zoo and you good people have made this possible and at the sunset of my working career I am so grateful.

There was a period of time when I thought this sunset would lead to the darkness of failure and whilst early 2021 is when we will know where we stand, I feel more confident now.

Thank you for your patience, thank you for support, it has been hard and demanding for us but we know NHS people are the real heroes, we only did our job.

Thank you again.

Dr DA Tropeano OBE
Managing Zoo Director

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