The Zoo Animals Fund was introduced to help licensed zoos continue to care for their animals as they face financial difficulties during COVID-19.
BIAZA has warned that thousands of animals will be rehomed or slaughtered if the government does not replace the Zoo Animals Fund with a Zoo Recovery Fund.
“The £100 million Zoo Animals Fund for the sector, pledged last year has failed to provide the support the sector needs: just £5 million has been spent and only 28 zoos have been helped,” wrote BIAZA.
“This means around 90% of the zoos, aquariums and safari parks in England have received no tailored support from Government’s Zoo Animals Fund through this pandemic.”
Zoos facing financial difficulties amid COVID-19
BIAZA’s letter continues: “In a recent survey, 80% of responding zoos told us they were ineligible for the Zoos Animals Fund. In the same survey, 24 zoo licence holders told us they faced permanent closure in the next 12 months. This is the tip of the iceberg.
“Why is it that zoos, aquariums and safari parks are not being given the support Government is showing other sectors.”
In January, BIAZA responded to news that the government would be extending the Zoo Animals Fund by four weeks in England.
Government asked to introduce Zoo Recovery Fund
BIAZA welcomed the move, but raised concerns that zoos will be left with no support at the end of the financial year. The extension to the scheme means that zoos can apply for the Zoo Animals Fund until February 26.
“With 95% unspent, the Zoo Animals Fund expiring in March, and with zoos, aquariums and safari parks crying out for help, it is now imperative that the £95 million is ringfenced for the creation of an accessible Zoo Recovery Fund,” said BIAZA.
Jamie Christon, Chief Operating Officer of Chester Zoo, said (via Sky News): “Without access to the support from the government’s £100m Zoo Fund due to the eligibility criteria being far too restrictive, the pandemic has left us with a £10 million hole in our finances.”