After over 11 weeks in lockdown, confined to our own homes only venturing out to stretch our legs, we can all relate to the animals just down the road at Blackpool Zoo. However, as lockdown eases and the UK citizens are allowed to meet up in groups of 6 – zoos, safari parks, and drive-in cinemas are set to reopen next week. This is the next step in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to ease the coronavirus lockdown measures. The set date for reopening is Monday 15th June but could be later as zoos prepare and adjust to social distancing measures for the foreseeable future.
Zoos were one of the first tourist attractions to open in many European countries such as Germany and Denmark, and are now reopening in Italy, France, Czech Republic and Spain. As an outdoor ‘low-risk’ attraction, zoos are one of the only attractions that can easily adhere to social distancing measures, it is presumed that the government have avoided reopening in a bid to avoid attracting tourists and large groups. However, as lockdown measures ease and people are enabled to meet up in groups of 6, outdoor attractions such as zoos and safaris are naturally the next step on our journey back to ‘normal’.
Bigger UK zoos such as Chester zoo and London zoo have announced their financial struggles during the pandemic. Chester zoo claiming that the 35,000 animals cost £465,000 a month to care for, with additional costs such as insurance and utilities – meaning that they need £1.6 million a month to keep going, with 97% profit from visitor revenue it’s a no brainer – they need customers and fast. With this there are fears for the animals’ well-being and where they will go if the zoo is to shut its doors indefinitely.
The government says it will provide a £14 million support fund for zoos across the UK to continue to care for the animals.
The formal announcement from the prime minister is imminent, with the hope that zoos can reopen as long as they follow social distancing guidelines – this will only include outdoor exhibitions, therefore reptile houses, and indoor bird exhibitions such as the one in Blackpool Zoo will not be allowed to open. This begs the question – what will happen to aquariums such as The Sea Life centre? Our local Blackpool attraction is keeping its doors firmly shut amidst the coronavirus pandemic, will they be next on the list to claim financial difficulties in order to care for the array of sea creature exhibits?