Chester Zoo has finally been given the green light to reopen on June 15 after it recently launched an urgent appeal to the public following government orders to stay closed indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK’s biggest charity zoo said that it had “tried to stay positive during the pandemic” and really wanted to “be a beacon of hope”, but the crisis and uncertainty had unfortunately left it fighting for its future.
After a huge outpouring of support, the zoo then launched their #SaveOurZoo appeal, which asked the public to help them raise a whopping 1.6 million per month to keep the zoo alive – and in just over a week they have already generated a staggering £2.4 million.
Over 100,000 individual people donated to the cause, organised fundraisers, and generally rallied for the iconic North West zoo – and Iceland even adopted all of their Humboldt penguins in a bid to support the #SaveOurZoo campaign.
The support has been overwhelming, so much so that they were tonight told that they’ll finally be able to reopen on June 15, during a move by the government which will allow outdoor attractions to open back up where the risk of coronavirus transmission is low.
Speaking about the news, Jamie Christon, Chief Operating Officer at Chester Zoo, said:
“A week ago we were in despair, not knowing when we would reopen, or if we could even survive if our gates had to remain closed for much longer.
“But the unwavering support of the public, our members, those MPs who listened to us and backed our corner, and our global community has completely humbled us. It’s wonderful that, together, we have been heard. We’ll be forever grateful to those who lent us their voice in our moment of need. To them we say thank you, from the very bottom of our hearts. We are also incredibly thankful to the Government for taking this step, for us, and for conservation of threatened species.
“This isn’t over just yet though. There’s no denying that the zoo has suffered severe financial damage over the past three months and the road to recovery will be long and uncertain.
“However, we now start the process of rebuilding this great charity zoo, as we prepare to safely welcome back visitors through our gates – albeit in much, much fewer numbers – from Monday 15 June. We are in no doubt that this is why now, today (10/06/2020), on the 89th birthday of Chester Zoo, we have hope that we will survive.”
Tomorrow, the Prime Minister will provide an update on the easing of the national lockdown, and further changes which are expected to take effect from 15 June.
Mr Johnson is expected to announce that ALL zoos will be allowed to reopen from 15 June, subject to appropriate social distancing measures being in place.
This will include keeping indoor exhibitions, such as reptile houses, closed and ensuring other amenities like cafes are in line with the government’s wider guidance.
A Downing Street official said: “People are continuing to make huge sacrifices to reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid a second spike, but we know it is tough and where we can safely open up more attractions, and it is supported by the science, we will do so.
“This is by necessity a careful process, but we hope the reopening of safari parks and zoos will help provide families with more options to spend time outdoors, while supporting the industry caring for these incredible animals.”
The news comes on the eve of Chester Zoo’s 89th birthday… Happy birthday, Chester Zoo.