A £14 million fund to help zoos and aquariums look after their animals in the face of pandemic closures has been announced by the Government.
Zoos and aquariums have lost visitor income having been forced to shut due in the lockdown, but still face the costs of looking after the animals in their care.
The Government said the funding would help zoos cover costs relating to keeping the animals and ensuring welfare standards are upheld – helping pay for things such as feed, heating and security.
The Environment Department (Defra) also said it would continue to work with some of the largest zoos to discuss additional concerns about funding in the longer term.
Lord Goldsmith, Animal Welfare Minister, said: “Even in these very difficult times, the Government remains absolutely committed to high standards of animal welfare.
“We know that many of our zoos are facing real pressure as a consequence of coronavirus, and we have made support available to them, including business rates relief and the business interruption loan scheme.
“This new Zoo Support Fund is designed to help those that need additional support to maintain the welfare of their animals.”
Individual grants of up to £100,000 will be available for English establishments covered by the Zoo Licensing Act, and the Government hopes the £14 million funding will support the sector, particularly smaller zoos.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay MP, said: “Zoos don’t just provide a great family day out, but are vital for education, protecting endangered species and conservation work.
“This fund, on top of the existing package of support we’re offering businesses, will mean that zoos across the country are helped to get through the coronavirus outbreak.”
Dr Madelon Willemsen, chief of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), said zoos and aquariums had gone to “extraordinary lengths” to cope with the pandemic while looking after animals despite the lack of income.
“We are pleased to have worked with Defra in shaping this much needed crisis support for zoos and aquariums.
“We continue to work to ensure those most in need have access to this and other forms of support.”