Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts ‘not ready to open on Monday’

Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo - Credit: Archant

The Government is expected to announce today that zoos and safari parks will be able to re-open from Monday - but the trust that runs Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts says it is not in a position to open that soon.

When Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts were forced to close on March 23, all non-essential staff were furloughed in order to save costs so that the they could be in a position to re-open when it was allowed later in the year.

While Wild Planet Trurt's zoos in Paignton, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo, have been closed there has been no income, apart from a small amount of funds kindly raised by supporters through a fundraising campaign.

This means the trust has not had the staff working in order to the get ready to open earlier than expected.

The zoos are already £3 million down on the expected financial position at this time of year.

It was announced on May 11 that outdoor ticketed venues would not be able to open until July 4 at the earliest.

After recent lobbying from some of the larger UK zoos to be able to open earlier, on Monday, June 1, Government responded by legally closing zoos, aquariums and safari parks indefinitely.

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So the zoos were still working to a re-opening date in early July.

While the zoos have been planning for weeks for re-opening, they have delayed implementing those plans because of the cost of bringing staff back from furlough.

They were anticipating an announcement on or about June 18 allowing zoos to re-open in early July, that would give th zoos the confidence to unfurlough essential staff.

They will now do so but it will still take some time to be ready.

When the zoo is in a position to re-open, all indoor exhibits will be required to remain shut, so they will have to offer a discounted ticket price and restrict the number of guests coming through our doors.

'With the extra costs involved in implementing the required social distancing measures we have ongoing concerns about the longer term future of zoos with fewer visitors, higher operating costs and the possibility of further 'lockdowns' in the future,' said a zoo spokesman.

Wild Planet Trust is the registered charity that runs Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, plus several nature reserves in Devon.