Although we are seeing the opening on shops, golf clubs and other non-essential businesses, the government has made a legal closure of all zoos and aquariums in England on the 1st of June 2020.

 

Despite the hard efforts of organisations such as the British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) communicating with government members and organisations to keep zoos and safari parks open, Paradise Wildlife Park, the Zoological Society of Hertfordshire (charity number 1108609) will legally stay closed.

 

As a potential sanctuary for families to come visit while enforcing social distancing measures, we feel disappointed and let down that our value is being overlooked. Paradise Wildlife Park is considered a small zoo, yet we would still have capacity for 1500 people a day to come and enjoy being outside their home in a safe way.

 

Additionally, our charity the Zoological Society of Hertfordshire is being utterly disregarded. Not only would we love to offer families a safe and fun day out during the compressive nature of lockdown, but we need to start having an income again for the sake of our animals. So far, we have been taking care of our animals via the generosity of the public donating food and monies to our Emergency Animal Support Fund. However, this is not sustainable. If this lack of support and clarity from the government will continue in regard to zoos, we may face extreme solutions to our financial losses. Worst case scenario would be splitting up animals to go to zoos and safari parks with a larger financial foundation than ours.

Tyler Whitnall, the zoo’s Directror, said: “Throughout the pandemic we have provided so much entertainment and enrichment for the Hertfordshire community through our content online, which has spread on a national and even international level. We wanted to be a symbol of education and inspiration for our visitors. But we did not just do this. In the background of the pandemic, we have still been raising awareness for wildlife conservation through the engagement of our animals online and helping to maintain healthy wildlife populations within captivity. However, with the latest updates from the government, our hope for Paradise Wildlife Park’s future begins to dwindle.

It is frustrating for us as although we can offer a safe and socially distant experience for our visitors while being outdoors, we are now undergoing a legal closure. The financial impact on our park has been crippling as the majority of our income comes from ticket sales and on-site purchases.

The money gained from this would go directly back into the animals and their needs. We are being extremely careful with our budgeting as we will never let our excellent standards slip when it comes to the care of our animals. In the absence of the visitors’ income, we have been taking funds out of our emergency financial resources, which will deplete over a short amount of time.

Not being able to open back up to the public for that financial support will inevitably crush us. If you would like to make a change please ask the question so that the press can bring this forward during coronavirus press conferences with our country’s leaders.”

We are very grateful for government’s support regarding the furloughed workers scheme. However, we feel wholly let down by the inconsistent and unclear information to zoos and safari parks. There has been no guidance or inclination as to when we can reopen and to what extent either. However, we will not let this discourage our efforts to reopen when we can. In the background, we have been improving our park to ensure an inspiring day with the animals and that will also remain safe to visit during the pandemic.

 

If you would like to support us, please donate whatever you can to the Animal Support Fund. Or, please consider adopting one of our animals. All funds would go straight back into the upkeep of our animals’ welfare.