'Bleak winter' ahead for Dudley Zoo as lockdown means lost income of £170,000

Dudley Zoo will lose out on £170,000 in vital income during the November lockdown – a heavy blow for the popular attraction after being forced to close during the first wave of coronavirus in the summer.

Zookeeper Adam Davey breaking the news to Kubwa the giraffe
Zookeeper Adam Davey breaking the news to Kubwa the giraffe

Zoo director Derek Grove says while staff have come to terms with closing the Black Country attraction for the month of November, he says they need to be allowed to swiftly reopen come December with no delays, in order to survive.

The zoo will close after today, along with dozens of other local attractions, after the Government announced a second national lockdown.

Only essential shops, schools, colleges and universities can remain open – meaning millions of businesses will be forced to close down for four weeks.

But for Dudley Zoo, which can't shut down completely due to the hundreds of animals needing care on site, the financial impact is huge.

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The park made £170,000 in income last November – which they will lose out on this year. And costs, such as food, heat, light and wages, still need to be covered – meaning it needs about £250,000 to survive.

Mr Grove said: "It's hardly a surprise to be honest. It's something we've been expecting for the last few weeks, a lockdown. It's the time of year where we tend to be quieter, so we won't have as deep a financial impact closing in November as we did over Easter and summer, where we relied on visitors. But it will still have an impact.

"If we can help slow the spread of Covid then we will do. We will just have no income coming in so it will mean more losses for the zoo. If it's just for November, we can live with it. But the frustrating thing last lockdown was seeing other businesses – which we deemed higher risk – reopen before us. We're open air, and it's very easy for people to just walk round. You can meet less people than in your local park.

"So the issue is if we aren't able to open as soon as December comes."

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The Government has been providing vital funding to various arts venues, attractions and businesses to help them stay afloat, but Dudley Zoo was unsuccessful in accessing the the £100m Zoo Animals Fund – Mr Grove said this loss meant they faced a 'bleak winter'.

He is hoping the public will continue to support the zoo through its Just Giving page or online shop.

Mr Grove added: "We should be able to pull some costs back with the furlough scheme but the fundraiser scheme was hugely successful last time in the summer. We received so many letters and emails to staff offering support, which I really didn't expect. It was wonderful.

"The main priority is that our animals don't feel like they're leading a lesser life during these periods of lockdown. The care we provide has to continue 365 days of the year."

Supporters can donate online at Dudley Zoo's Justgiving page justgiving.com/campaign/DZCanimalcarefund, via text, or by purchasing a 12-month animal adoption package.

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