Chester Zoo says it is "very much fighting for its future" because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has already cost it £5 million.

Bosses at the UK's biggest zoo say they have been told by government representatives to prepare for their gates to remain closed ‘indefinitely’,

The zoo shut on March 21 and says it will continue to lose more than £1m a month, despite exhaustive efforts to reduce costs and its use of the government’s furlough scheme

Credit: Chester Zoo

“But now, the government has ordered us to stay closed indefinitely and Chester Zoo is very much fighting for its future.

Jamie Christon, Chief Operating Officer, Chester Zoo
Credit: Chester Zoo

To highlight its readiness for reopening and its ability to keep people safe, the zoo say it has has already put in place measures to ensure that its 128 acres of outdoor space is ‘Covid secure.’

“We plan to heavily limit visitor numbers, we’ve installed self-scanning ticket lanes, floor markings, one-way systems, multiple cleaning and hand sanitisation points, a huge amount of signage and protective screens in all of our key locations and service areas.

Jamie Christon, Chief Operating Officer, Chester Zoo
Credit: Chester Zoo

Click here for details on the appeal launched by Chester Zoo.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: "We understand the challenges faced by zoos and aquariums during these unprecedented times but it's vital that we do not move too quickly in reopening to ensure public health is protected.

"We have provided a £14 million support fund to ensure zoos are able to continue to care for their animals. "Alongside this, work is ongoing to understand how and when zoos and aquariums may be able to reopen in a safe way to the public whilst maintaining social distancing."

Defra spokesman

Chester Zoo, the most visited zoo in the UK with more than two million people passing through its gates in 2019, is a registered conservation and education charity.

It says it contributes more than £83 million to the regional economy and supports more than 1,700 jobs, as well as protecting wildlife in more than 30 countries.