Struggling for survival: The zoo warning the 2-metre rule will threaten its future

Colchester Zoo in Essex is warning it could become an endangered species unless social distancing measures relaxed soon.

  • Video report by ITV News Anglia's Charlie Frost

There were cars queuing to get into Colchester Zoo as it officially reopened to the public on Thursday after a three month closure.

It was an emotional moment for the keepers who have been looking after the animals but the uncertainty over the future of the wildlife park continues.

The 2-metre distance rule means the zoo can welcome only 2,000 visitors a day, fewer than half it would usually see.

Colchester Zoo is warning in may not survive if social distancing means visitor numbers are cut by half. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The visitors booked into the first thirty-minute slot of the day were greeted by the keepers. Tickets to Colchester Zoo are sold out for the next ten days.

The hours are now broken up and every customer has to come armed with a ticket booked online. They are all measures to keep people apart.

Indoor animal house are also closed off and the zoo can welcome only 2,000 visitors a day. Usually in July and August, it could be up to triple that.

The zoo says if the social distance guidance was reduced one metre, it could probably double the number of visitors to 4,000 a day.

The staff and keepers greet the first returning visitors to Colchester Zoo in Essex. Credit: ITV News Anglia
The tourists are returning to zoos across the region but there are fears there won't be enough visitors allowed in to make them financially viable. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Having eaten into financial reserves during the three-month closure, the zoo now needs to build up funds to get through the winter.

It's the same for many other zoos like Shepreth Wildlife Park in Cambridgeshire and Hamerton Zoo near Huntingdon.