We are a nation of animal lovers, with zoos and aquariums forming a vital part of our culture and tradition. More importantly, they play a key role not only in education but in conservation – protecting many species for future generations and supporting wild populations across the world.
Zoos and other animal centres have been able to access the generous Government packages announced to support businesses across the many sectors of our economy, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans and Bounce Back Loans, as well as the various rate reliefs, business grants and tax deferrals.
Nevertheless, I recognise the uniquely difficult position facing Zoos and animal parks, for whom the costs of caring for their collections does not stop when the park closes. The Government has recognised this and I am pleased that the Zoos Support Fund has been supporting zoos and aquariums facing financial difficulty in recent months.
As some restrictions are eased, allowing people to visit outdoor attractions parks, stately homes and horticultural gardens, I wrote to the Minister of State, to voice my support for including zoos in these relaxations. I am delighted that Zoos have been given the go-ahead to reopen from 15th June, which will bring in revenue vital to the continued success of these attractions.
I have further added my name to letter supporting the continuation of assistance for those parks experiencing financial issues as a result of a reduced number of visitors over the coming year.