Chester Zoo has launched an urgent appeal to the public this afternoon after the government ordered it may have to stay closed indefinitely amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The UK’s biggest charity zoo says that it has “tried to stay positive during this pandemic” and really wanted to “be a beacon of hope”, but the crisis and uncertainty has unfortunately left it fighting for its future.
Now, it has launched an urgent #SaveOurZoo appeal asking the public to help raise £1.6m each month to keep it going during the most crucial times.
In a plea via its website and social media platforms, Chester Zoo said: “We’ve tried to stay positive during this pandemic. Our conservationists have continued to prevent extinction, our virtual days have cheered up the nation, and our learning resources have helped thousands of home-schooling families.”
“We wanted to remain a beacon of hope. We really tried. But now, as the government has ordered that we may have to stay closed indefinitely, it hurts us to say that this crisis has left us fighting for our future.”
“Not being able to open, despite being a huge outdoor site with all the necessary safety measures in place, is having a devastating impact on our much-loved zoo. We’re heading towards debt in excess of £24m by the end of 2020 – this will financially cripple us.”
“We need to raise £1.6m each month to keep going.”
“Meanwhile, we’re having to sit back and watch as people are piling onto beaches and into public parks, where there is no way of controlling numbers, no way of guaranteeing people are socially distanced and no way of ensuring safety. We, can do all of this.”
“We look on as, from this week, private gardens open up, while our own 128 acres of gardens and 16km of pathways remain closed, and under enormous financial pressure.”
“We refuse to cut corners when it comes to caring for the animals, we refuse to give up on our fight to prevent extinction. Because of that, we’ve now reached the point where we desperately need your help.”
“We need YOU to save our zoo.”
The park made the decision to temporarily close its gates to visitors following public health guidance back on 21st March and has remained closed ever since. In a statement released at the time of closure, a spokesperson for Chester Zoo said: “We really hope it plays a part in slowing down the spread of this awful virus”.
“Rest assured, that our incredibly dedicated animal experts, including zookeepers, vets and scientists will continue to ensure that the animals at the zoo enjoy the same levels of care and attention they receive all year round”.
Over the past few months since closure, Chester Zoo has been throwing open its virtual gates to the public with live streamed tours of the park which have been attracting millions of visitors worldwide each week.
If you’re able to make a contribution to help save one the North West’s most beloved attractions, then you can donate via the official Chester Zoo JustGiving page here.
You can also text OURZOO to 70085 to donate £5.