The Australian government has introduced an A$95m rescue package for zoos and aquariums that have had to close their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Zoos and Aquariums have been hit particularly hard during the lockdown measures introduced around the world, as they still face large bills for feeding and caring for animals in their care.
This relief fund will go to more than 100 zoos and aquariums in Australia and will help to replace some lost visitor revenue. This will help the attractions continue for the next six months, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
An important role in society
Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Tourism Minister said that “It’s absolutely crucial our iconic zoos and aquariums can still operate on the other side and play a major role in helping our tourism industry to recover from this.”
Overall, zoos and aquariums in Australia receive around 20 million international and domestic visitors a year.
But these attractions also play an important role in wildlife recovery. The recent bushfires in Australia devasted large parts of the country. The Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, said that this funding will help zoos and aquariums treat and care for injured and displaced animals from the bushfires.
“While COVID-19 may be keeping visitors away, zookeepers, aquarium owners and veterinarians continue to play a lead role in wildlife recovery after the bushfires, from treatment and rehabilitation to the development of insurance populations,” Ley said.
She continued, saying “At the same time, they are caring for millions of animals who live permanently within their network and this is critical funding to support the welfare of those animals along with the vital ongoing role zoos play in conserving our environment and protecting native species.”
A place to reconnect with nature
The Executive Director of Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia, Nicola Craddock, said that the industry had a “compelling case” for government aid.
She said that “People will need public places where they can reconnect with nature, keep their children active and engaged and maintain appropriate physical distance in an outdoors venue with an abundance of space. However, ZAA has concern for the impact on international tourism, which may be much slower to recover.”
Eligible zoos and aquariums in Australia will also be able to access the JobKeeper wage subsidy program to help with their staffing costs.
Zoos and aquariums around the world are struggling with a lack of revenue. Vancouver Aquarium has said that it may have to close permanently because of the loss of revenue. And WAZA CEO Martin Zordan spoke about the difficulties facing zoos and aquariums at this time.