Roadmap to Reopening on 12th April

Well at last we have a reopening route with a tentative date of the 12th April as to when zoos and other attractions might be able to open. This is therefore positive and welcome news!

However, does this bring normality to us as zoo keepers? The answer is no. Firstly, we will still have to wait to understand exactly what opening means, particularly in terms of the restrictions which will be imposed on us. Secondly, we anxiously await to find out what the Chancellor of the Exchequer is prepared to do with regards to the extension of Furlough, the Business Rate Holiday and if he will retain VAT at the lower percentage of 5% which would continue to aid our recovery.

Zoos have received no other funding since our first closure back in March 2020 so we have had to live on very much restricted funding whilst ensuring our animals receive all the welfare they need.

Reopening is not just about opening our front gate, a zoo is a well oiled machine and whilst the Animal Care Team have worked as normal, our Retail, Catering and Guest Services have closed their doors and it will mean starting all over again which is a massive undertaking.

We know reopening is going to be good for our staff, it will also be good for the animals as we think many species have missed the interaction with the visitors, particularly the primates.

Hopefully on the 12th April, dependent on the Government review of step one of the lifting of restrictions, life will return to the zoo and we hope this reopening will be the one that will keep us open for the long term.

We are also aware, in these difficult days, what the zoo means to many people from all walks of life so we understand the role and what we bring to peoples lives – we are very proud of what we can achieve.

This has been a long and difficult road, we have discovered qualities we did not know we had, we have discovered how resilient we are, we have discovered what we mean to many, we have discovered that we are special.

Dr DA Tropeano OBE, Managing Zoo Director

Given the level of donations received from the local community who have been amazing with their support since lockdown, we will hopefully have sufficient funds to last us until re-opening, if 12th April is the date we will be allowed to reopen, but we will need huge support when the gates do open by visits to the Zoo. Without your visits our survival is uncertain.

The Zoo will be an ideal, safe controlled environment for people to visit to reunite with friends and family when safe to do so, providing a fun day out for everyone whilst supporting the animals and future of Colchester Zoo. You can read more about our reopening plans here.

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