New life brings some smiles in a difficult year

Zoos and wildlife parks serving the West Midlands were closed for large parts of 2020 as coronavirus forced a ban on visitors.

But life went on behind closed doors, with the animal community getting on with their routine.

And that meant the continued patter of tiny –and not so tiny – feet as many new arrivals were welcomed into the world.

That meant a new rhino calf at West Midlands Safari Park, a beautiful baby Western chimpanzee at Chester Zoo, cute meerkats at Telford Exotic Zoo and an adorable baby wallaby at Dudley Zoo.

The safe arrival of new animals has been a particular joy for staff who have continued to work hard to keep zoos and animal parks up together through the year.

While visitors have been allowed back, it is been a fragmented year that has cost all zoos dear. Some help has come from the Government and appeals have also brought in much-needed revenue from the public.

Dudley Zoo lost £200,000 from the November lockdown alone. A JustGiving page set up early in the pandemic raised £40,000 and more has been donated since.

Chester Zoo’s chief executive Dr Mark Pilgrim said he was “overwhelmed” after 130,000 donors from 90 countries sent funds to help deal with a “£5.5m scar”.The zoo said Covid-19 rules had pushed it “to the edge of extinction”.

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