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Local zoos face funding crisis without government support

Friday 2nd October 2020

The Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), which runs Banham Zoo in Norfolk and Africa Alive! in Suffolk, has branded the government’s emergency zoo funding “impossible to access”, and has called for greater support in the months ahead.

The UK government announced their long-awaited £100m Zoo Animals Fund in June but, as assistance is only applicable to zoos facing bankruptcy within 12 weeks, most zoos in the UK are currently unable to receive the funding.

Claudia Roberts, Joint Managing Director of the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), said: “At the beginning of lockdown both our zoos were turned down for the government zoo grants of £100,000 – the reason given was that assistance was only for zoos who had less than 6 weeks of cashflow and at the time we had 10 weeks of cash. This has since been extended to 12 weeks and only for last resort animal care costs, not for maintenance of the the future of the charity.

We were so relieved in June to hear that a further £100 million fund had been made available for zoos, but it’s so disappointing to find out that we are again ineligible. However, it’s not just our charity which has found support impossible to access. No major zoos in any county across the UK have been able to access this fund, only a very small handful of small animal sanctuaries.

As a charity we rely entirely on visitor income and, while our zoos were closed, we lost nearly £2 million in revenue. Although we have had a very positive few months since we reopened, with huge thanks to all our colleagues and visitors, we are still struggling to survive into the winter months without the added worry of a second lockdown.”

The government also recently announced an extension to the 5% tax on sales (VAT) for the tourism and hospitality industry. The reduction will now end in March 2021.

Claudia Roberts added “Despite the funding crisis facing our industry, we are relieved to hear the announcement that a VAT reduction on all our sales, across Banham Zoo and Africa Alive!, will be extended until 31 March 2021.

There’s still a long road ahead for our zoos to survive through the winter months, but it’s heartening to see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

See to donate to the charity’s Wild About Survival campaign, go to the Zoological Society of East Anglia’s Just Giving donation page.

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