In News

Everyone’s favourite National Treasure, David Attenborough, has stepped in to help ZSL Whipsnade and London Zoos remain open. Both zoos were forced to close when the country went into lockdown and although they are both now open, they still need help to keep them running.

The appeal that Sir David is fronting aims to raise £12 million for both zoos to help cover the costs of feeding and caring for the animals for the next year, allowing the zoos some breathing space to get back on their feet. This is because the coronavirus hit just as zoos across the country were about to hit their peak seasons, with the majority of their funds being made through visitors coming over Easter, the school holidays and summer bank holidays. The appeal will help them make up the shortfall they have experienced through lockdown.

A spokesperson for ZSL which runs the zoo in London’s Regent Park and at Whipsnade said: “To give some context to our losses, our key Easter and May holiday periods would usually see joint takings of £7.8 million. That breaks down to around £4.8 million on the gate and a further £3 million on food, drink and souvenirs.”

It is estimated that the zoos spend around £1million each month between them to feed and care for their 22,000 animals, while a further £1.3 million is spent on the science and conservation costs and central running costs.

The spokesman continued: “As well as our fixed costs, we have needed to invest money during lockdown to create Covid-secure zoos where visitors can enjoy a great and safe day out. This includes thousands of floor markets, directional signs and safety guidance on both zoos. These heavy financial losses can not be recovered operating a reduced capacity and limited opportunity for visitors to spend on catering and retail. It all adds up to a difficult picture of recovery that is by no means guaranteed. By the end of the year, we will have lost income worth many millions with our reserves sitting at almost nothing.”

Sir David Attenborough fronting the campaign to help keep ZSL running has helped raise the awareness of the difficulties being faced by the zoos. Speaking to reporters, he said: “The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has made an outstanding contribution to conservation and to our understanding of wildlife for 200 years. ZSL now faces its toughest challenge to date – Coronavirus led to the sustained closure of London and Whipsnade Zoo cutting off vital income. Put bluntly, this national institution is now, itself, at risk of extinction.”

He continued: “Its two zoos, London and Whipsnade, are home to over 20,000 animals, many of which are globally threatened and some already extinct in the wild. ZSL has already supported the reintroduction of some of the most threatened species into the wild and helped increase wildlife populations globally. With 75% of new infectious diseases (including Covid-19) originating from animals, ZSL’s work researching and tackling these issues is needed now more than ever. Without your help we could see the closure of the world’s oldest scientific zoo, home to thousands of animals and the place where generations of people have forged a love of wildlife though their joyful encounters with animals. Now more than ever, we must support the work of this global conservation charity.”

You can help support Whipsnade Zoo by visiting their justgiving link here