Although many businesses are beginning to slowly reopen as the Coronavirus pandemic hopefully eases, the situation for many visitor attractions remains bleak. The Filey Bird Garden and Animal Park on the Scarborough Road recently posted an update on their difficult situation. We hope you might take the time to read their statement and consider helping their campaign. Here is their plea:
As our followers will have seen we have remained positive throughout the whole COVID-19 situation. If by sharing some pictures of the animals and gardens we have brightened your days, we are happy to have helped.
However, in light of recent government announcements, we feel it is important for the general public to understand the unique situation that zoos and other animal attractions are currently in. Unlike many businesses, zoos cannot simply close the doors and stop all operating costs. Animals need continuous care, from basic feeding and cleaning, veterinary care, utility bills for heat, light and water, general site maintenance, and the staffing costs needed to fulfill all of this. Despite originally not being included on the Government’s mandated list of businesses which must close, like many other zoos, we took the decision to remain closed to help protect everyone.
Influential organizations, including BIAZA, have been fighting on behalf of zoos, as their plight seemed to have been overlooked by the government and its lack of guidance. With the lifting of restrictions on UK public travel, the phased re-opening of garden centres, non-essential shops, and some outdoor ticketed attractions (including National Trust properties), many zoos were also hoping and preparing to re-open. It was therefore a shock to hear of a new Statutory Instrument (31st May) with an amendment which specifically prohibits zoos and other animal attractions from opening indefinitely!
Before this pandemic many zoos were already set up with the key aspects now recommended to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, including:
• Having ticketed entrances allowing visitor numbers to be controlled
• Having good circulation space allowing for social distancing
• Having regular hand washing facilities that are effective against Coronavirus
• Being mostly outdoors, to reduce the chance of transmission
With the additional implementation of one way systems, closure of indoor spaces, increased cleaning routines etc, surely zoos should be allowed to open – with arguably less increased risk to the public than many other places that are, or will, soon be open!
It is not just the high profiles zoos that are in trouble, there are many smaller zoos and animal attractions struggling. These are often family-run businesses that are only open for part of the year. For us, this has meant being closed and without income since November 2019. This new amendment (with no further guidance as to how or when we can re-open) leaves us with the frightening possibility of not being open until Easter 2021 (17 months with no income!).
We are still hoping to welcome back our visitors in time to salvage the rest of the summer season, to be able to continue as a popular local attraction for many years to come. Currently we are not asking for donations, but we are very grateful for the contributions of food from Filey Community Fridge and local supermarkets.
Although government grants would be greatly welcomed, like us, many zoos just want to be allowed to reopen safely. We simply want the same opportunity as other businesses to allow us to get back on our feet.
Please share this post and sign the petitions to raise awareness and help save our zoos!