Zoos across the Isle of Wight will be allowed to reopen from Monday, the government has confirmed.
With strict social distancing rules in place, attractions like the Isle of Wight Zoo will be permitted to open for visitors from 15th June, but they will be forced to restrict access to some of the confined areas, such as reptile rooms and cafes, to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Across the UK, zoos urged the government to consider the reopening of their establishments before they haemorrhaged too much money to survive – putting animals at risk of euthanasia.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to outline the full details in today’s daily briefing at 17:00.
Confirming the news, a spokesperson for Downing Street has said:
“People are continuing to make huge sacrifices to reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid a second spike, but we know it is tough and where we can safely open up more attractions, and it is supported by the science, we will do so.
“This is by necessity a careful process, but we hope the reopening of safari parks and zoos will help provide families with more options to spend time outdoors, while supporting the industry caring for these incredible animals.”
The news comes following yesterday’s confirmation that non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen from Monday, as previously reported by Island Echo.
Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will remain shut until at least 4th July.
Bob Seely MP has said:
“This is good news for our local zoo which I know has been struggling through the Covid-19 pandemic. I have been in contact with them in recent weeks to hear about the challenges they face, and I have been escalating their concerns to Government.
“Like many others across the country, our zoo has lost income due to the necessary restrictions forcing closure, yet they have had to keep caring, and paying for, the animals throughout this period. They need our support.
“I hope that Islanders will get behind the Isle of Wight Zoo and our other animal attractions and help to keep them going until visitors can return. This may mean visiting in person if safe to do so, or it may be through supporting fundraising activity.”
Charlotte Corney, Founder at The Wildheart Trust (IW Zoo), said:
“Our community is breathing a big and overdue sigh of relief today after hearing the news that we’re likely to be able to re-open to our visitors who are the vital funders of the animal welfare and conservation service we provide.
“Never has there a been a more critical time for our organisations to support endangered wildlife given that we’ve already entered into the ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’.
“However big or small, zoos and sanctuaries all operate on tiny margins but for us, failure is not an option and we cannot entertain thinking the unthinkable. We have an unwavering duty of care to our animals as individuals as well as to species survival; it is adverse human activity which has put them into a captive position and thus it is our moral duty to ensure their security.
“Bob has been fantastically supportive of our plight throughout the pandemic, liaising with us about securing funding pots and planning for the Island offer to be less weather dependant and more resilient into the winter months when we’ll need to scoop up as much lost trade as possible.”