Following the government’s announcement that zoos can reopen to visitors from Monday 15th June, staff at ZSL’s London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo have been busy preparing to welcome guests back through their gates.
After three months of closure and lost revenue, numerous measures are now in place to ensure that the Zoos are safe, inspiring places for visitors to enjoy. Additional handwashing facilities and sanitiser stations have been placed throughout, with two-metre distance markers laid out in exhibits and one-way routes introduced to control the flow of visitors.
The Zoo’s restaurants will remain closed for now, but restrooms will be open with a new queuing system, while picnic benches will be cleaned regularly to ensure visitors can enjoy a relaxing picnic during their visit.
Visitors to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo be able to get their first glimpse of the adorable new-borns welcomed during lockdown, including 14 extinct-in-the-wild Pere David Deer fawns, a Yak calf named Ginny, five wild boar piglets and a newly-hatched wattled crane. However, indoor exhibits including the Butterfly House and Aquarium will remain closed in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.
While the news is cause for much celebration, ZSL still needs to raise urgent funds to cover the cost of running its zoos. The increased safety measures mean that tickets to visit will be offered at pre-allocated, timed entry slots – limited to just 2,000 visitors a day at London Zoo and 3,000 per day at Whipsnade – well below the numbers needed for the charity to run efficiently.
ZSL Director General Dominic Jermey commented: “Reopening is an important step towards securing ZSL’s future but is by no means an instant fix. We rely heavily on zoo ticket sales to fund our vital conservation work, and after months of enforced closure we still urgently need support.
“We battened down the hatches to weather the storm – furloughing staff and cutting costs wherever possible – but our animals, many of which are threatened in the wild, need the same outstanding level of animal care whether we are open or closed.
“We are enormously grateful to all those who have generously donated to our cause during this unprecedented time, but we still need support to get our zoos back on their feet, our conservationists working back in the field and our scientists investigating wildlife diseases such as Covid-19.”
For further information and to book tickets to visit ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo head to zsl.org