Colchester Zoo prepares for April reopening

The animals were enjoying the sunshine as the zoo gets ready for an April opening

Colchester Zoo says it’s disappointed not to be reopening in time for Easter, but it’s pleased to finally have a date to work towards.

Boris Johnson announced that outdoor attractions including zoos, will be allowed to reopen no earlier than April 12th.

The elephants at Colchester Zoo Credit: ITV News Anglia

We’ve missed obviously February half-term already this year, so Easter is generally a huge part of our annual income. Missing it is a real blow but I think we just have to look positively. We’re going to get the summer and hopefully we’ll be able to recoup some of what we lost for the rest of the year after May onwards.

Sarah Forsyth, Curator, Colchester Zoo

Staggered entry times are likely to continue initially, with some paths around the zoo being widened to avoid congestion.  The zoo has utilized the furlough scheme as much as possible.  The only staff currently coming in are the keepers to care for the animals on a daily basis and some maintenance staff to manage the upkeep of the zoo.

Colchester Zoo's Edge of Africa area Credit: ITV News Anglia

Even with fewer staff, it costs thousands each day to run the zoo.  The local community has pulled together to offer support during the three lockdowns.

The local community and beyond have been absolutely incredible. People, visitors and just businesses as well have really kept our spirits up with random acts of kindness or donating food or going to supermarkets and picking up whatever they can find to bring in for our animals and the donations to our emergency operating fund. It’s all been incredible and is really what’s kept us going.

Sarah Forsyth, Curator, Colchester Zoo
Colchester Zoo's popular Meerkats Credit: ITV News Anglia

Right now the zoo is extremely quiet and the animals have got used to that. When the zoo finally reopens, they'll have to adapt to seeing visitors again.

I think most of the species will actually be quite excited because they love engaging with our visitors and I think they’ve actually missed them as much as we do.

Sarah Forsyth, Curator, Colchester Zoo