Calls for ‘renewed momentum’ in Chester Zoo’s ongoing fight for survival
Calls have been made to ‘renew momentum’ in Chester Zoo’s ongoing fight for survival, with some expressing concern about the potential loss to the city.
It is estimated the zoo brings in a total economic contribution of £83.1m and supports 1,750 jobs.
A campaign launched in June titled ‘Save Our Zoo’ asked for donations to help keep the zoo running and reverse the Government’s decision to keep zoos closed ‘indefinitely’ following the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was explained the zoo was heading towards more than £24m in debt by the end of 2020, needing £1.6m per month to help keep it going.
🐘🐢SAVE OUR ZOO🦁🐧
As the UK’s biggest charity zoo, we’ve tried to stay positive during this pandemic.
Our conservationists have continued to prevent extinction, our virtual days have cheered up the nation and our learning resources have helped home-schooling families. pic.twitter.com/TW6U6tHpZl
— Chester Zoo (@chesterzoo) June 3, 2020
Three Cheshire West and Chester councillors who were part of this campaign are once again asking for the support of the community to help it through this difficult period.
Cllr Jill Houlbrook said: “We have been fully behind the fight to save our zoo since the very start of this awful pandemic.
“Now, we ask for renewed momentum and will do whatever it takes to ensure that Chester Zoo’s work to prevent the extinction of highly threated species both in the UK and in all corners of the world, as well as its ability to continue to engage with 150,000 young people every year, continues well into the future.”
Cllr Simon Eardley said: “Chester Zoo is a place that’s held in the hearts of many and I pay tribute to our local community for the support it has given to the zoo so far.
“I urge everyone to do what you can though to continue that support and to help navigate the zoo through these most challenging of times – whether that’s booking a ticket to its wonderful Christmas Lanterns event, which provides a crucial additional income stream, or, if you’re member, to either use any booking you have made or to cancel it if you can’t make your slot in order to release that space for someone else to enjoy.”
Cllr Matt Bryan said: “It is absolutely essential that the zoo is able to return to financial good health, and continues to make its remarkable economic, cultural and charitable impact.
“What is more its role in helping Chester to tackle the climate emergency, via its hugely important education outreach, is vital to our efforts to ensure we hit our firm targets to become a carbon-free authority by 2030.
“We simply must save our zoo.”
With the zoo not being able to access any of the Government’s £100m Zoo Animals Support Fund it is having to deal with being stripped of 97 per cent of its income whilst meeting outgoing costs of caring for over 35,000 animals.
It also provides global scientific research, education programmes and species-saving conservation work as well as an area which millions of people visit every year.
Jamie Christon, Chief Operating Officer at Chester Zoo, thanked the councillors for their efforts and support over the last few months.
“We are on the very long and slow road to recovery, but the fact remains that we are still in a highly perilous position. The zoo and its mission to prevent extinction remains at risk,” he said.
“I therefore would like to thank Cllrs Houlbrook, Bryan and Eardley for their continued, unwavering support in the fight to save our zoo.
“They, of course, recognise that we simply cannot allow the collapse of one of the regions’ most important economic and cultural assets and have together promised to do all they can to help us to try and secure the financial help from the Government that large charity zoos like ours so desperately need right now.
“The Government has said it is continuing to talk to large zoos like us to explore ways of supporting us and our vital efforts to prevent extinction. But still there is nothing on the table.
“After significant time spent in lengthy, and what have been seemingly very positive discussions with Government representatives for several months, this is extremely disappointing for us.
“As a leading conservation and education charity of global importance, our aims are broadly aligned with the Government’s own environmental objectives.
“So, why aren’t they supporting us?”
For ways to help the zoo, visit: https://www.chesterzoo.org/support-us/
By Jordan Adams
Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com