London Zoo 'could face permanent closure' unless government reverses decision to keep zoos shut

London Zoo has warned it faces permanent closure if the Government does not reverse its decision to keep zoos shut as lockdown eases.

The zoo, which is part of international conservation charity Zoological Society of London, said it has worked to put measures in place to make sure visitors can return to the attraction safely.

But the Government has kept zoos, safari parks and aquariums closed – even as car showrooms, furniture stores and venues such as National Trust gardens reopen with social-distancing measures in place.

ZSL said the zoo, which is reliant on income from visitors to care for animals and to fund global science and conservation projects – but which has been closed since March 21, is heading towards financial crisis.

It is urging ministers to U-turn on the policy of keeping zoos shut this week and let them reopen their gates, ahead of an adjournment debate in Parliament on Thursday.

ZSL said it was not able to qualify for the Government’s zoo fund, and had been turned down for a bank loan on the “misunderstanding” the Government would help.

Income has dwindled while costs – including £1 million a month for caring for its animals – have mounted, the charity said.

We’ve been vocal with our need for support since our doors were closed – launching a fundraising campaign and appealing to Government, banks and individuals for help. Unlike shops, museums and pubs, we couldn’t just shut the gates, press pause, and wait for the green light to return. Our zookeepers, veterinary teams and facilities teams have continued to come to work every day to ensure our precious animals remain healthy and cared for – and that costs money.

Dominic Jermey, ZSL director general

London Zoo has put in measures including strictly limited capacity, one-way routes, new signage, and increased hand-washing facilities to make the the venue safe for visitors.