Sussex zookeepers say cost of living crisis could put animals' welfare at risk

  • Report from ITV Meridian's Malcolm Shaw

As the new government prepares to announce how it will tackle the cost of living crisis, zoos in our region are calling for urgent help with soaring energy costs.

Many of the animals need special heat and light, and cutting back would put their welfare at risk.

But the cost of providing that care is soaring.

"It all comes down to their welfare, said Mark Kenward, of Drusillas Wildlife Park in East Sussex.

  • Mark Kenward, Animal Welfare Manager, Drusillas Wildlife Park

"We have to be able to keep them at their natural temperatures to sustain their exotic bodies

Animals such as the Silvery Marmoset which are found in the Amazon rainforest, need the warmth of a special light. 

Many of the animals at the zoo have to be kept in heated enclosures. 

Drusillas says it has already seen its energy bill go up by almost 70% compared to last year, and that's likely to rise even further. 

Even the Meerkats have a lamp in their outdoor run which needs energy to run.

The zoo is callling on government to help businesses like this by cutting VAT from 20% to 12.5% to help them survive.

Managing Director of Drusillas Oliver Smith said: "There are costs across the board that we face.

"Whether it be wages, whether it's timber and materials - whatever it is the costs are going up.

"We can't just pass those costs through to our customers, because their household incomes are being squeezed as we know.

"The support so far has been directly targeted to households - quite rightly, but the businesses do need help as well, especially the small to medium enterprises.

"That's really what we're calling on the government to do."