An honest insight into the zoo’s current position

It’s been no secret that Zoo’s have suffered during the pandemic of COVID-19 since March 2020 and the fight for Colchester Zoo’s survival now continues into 2021 with the infection rate continuing to rise despite a vaccination programme in place.

It is still uncertain as to when the Zoo will be able to reopen but we know that when it is safe to do so restrictions will still be in place for safety and this will continue to affect the zoo’s future due to reduced income.

We have been overwhelmed with your support during the zoo’s numerous closures due to COVID-19 and can’t thank you enough. Your help is still critical for the zoo’s survival, please continue to help us through this difficult time.

There are so many ways in which you can help from purchasing an Animal Adoption to Monetary Gift Vouchers to spend at the zoo towards a variety of products when we re-open.

Find out more here.

This Q & A below with Colchester Zoo’s Managing Director, Dr DA Tropeano OBE, answers your common questions and explains the effects of the pandemic.

This provides an honest insight into the current position of Colchester Zoo along with the difficulties which we continue to face and why your invaluable support is so vital for the Zoo’s future.
Colchester Zoo is coping with extreme difficulties during lockdown 3.0. Our running costs are much higher at present due to it being the Winter. Therefore, food costs have increased and our heating and electricity bills are also very high. We also require more Animal Care Staff to hand this time round as cleaning is much more demanding with the animals spending more time in their indoor areas.

Our finances are very stretched following the limited Summer trade and level of donations which are much lower than in the Summer making the future for the zoo a much more difficult one.
We still have over 70 of our Animal Care Team working in bubbles at the zoo to care for the animals during closure. The team are working in bubbles to help reduce the risk of infection within the Animal Care Department affecting the ability for us to continue caring for our animals.
In 2020 our gates were closed to visitors for a total of a long and hard 122 days. We expect to be closed for at least another 46 days at the beginning of 2021 if not more. It is very difficult to know at this moment in time when the zoo will be allowed to re-open and when that day comes that the Government allow the zoo to reopen, will infection rate in our area allow us to safely.
Our visitor numbers were much lower in 2020 than what we would usually experience. Having to cap our visitors for safety measures and requiring visitors to book time slots in advance really affected our attendance. In 2020 we welcomed around 600,000 visitors during the time we were open but the majority of these visitors were pass holders therefore our paying visitor income was highly reduced. Overall, we saw our attendance decrease by around 40% compared to 2019.
Very much so. Again during March the running costs are higher as this is the tail end of Winter. We expect that social distancing will remain in place therefore continuing the reduced capacity and income that we experienced in 2020.
Not very long at all. We have stopped all of our development projects at the zoo and the support we usually are able to offer to our conservation projects has had to stop so we retain all of our resources to help towards the possible future of Colchester Zoo.

It is an extremely worrying picture for us here at Colchester Zoo – one of survival if we can. We feel that this is a similar picture for a lot of zoo’s which is extremely worrying for conservation overall.
Our annual turnover is down by just short of a devastating £4m from 2019 to 2020 and the loss continues on into 2021. We expect a similar pattern this year which is extremely concerning.
Yes, unfortunately we had to make redundancies as a result of COVID-19. This was a very difficult and hard move to make but we had not choice but use this avenue to give the zoo more of a chance of survival. These redundancies were from our commercial and development departments rather than our Animal Care Team.
Outlook at the moment is very unclear, we are trying to remain positive but cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even when the Government lifts restrictions and say we can reopen we may not feel it is the best decision depending on the level of infection so we are in the unknown and have limited cash reserves to see us through this period of uncertainty.

Our priority at this moment in time is to stay afloat, pay our monthly bills and encourage support and raise awareness of the importance of donations from the local community for the zoos future.

Despite the difficulties and challenges the Zoo faces, we are making sure that our animals here at Colchester Zoo have everything they need.

There is no need to worry about the animals. We would just politely ask, please be kind and help us through this difficult period, we need money to be able to pay for the care we provide our animals and there are many ways in which you can help.

Find out more here.

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