Chester Zoo, as well as many other zoos and wildlife parks just like it, deserve to be supported during these challenging times. Their significant work to protect and conserve endangered animals, whilst also educating families about wildlife, should continue to be cherished and preserved.
The Government has allocated emergency funding for all zoos so that these wildlife parks are supported. However, I agree that we must do more to protect one of the North West’s best loved tourist attractions and important conservationist charities from closure.
Many of my constituents have been writing in to express concerns and so I have called on the Secretary of State, George Eustice, to look at ways we can open the zoo safely and as soon as possible:
The Rt Hon George Eustice MP
Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
2 Marsham Street
Date: 8th June 2020
I write to you today regarding the uncertainty facing Chester Zoo, as well as many other wildlife charities like it. Chester Zoo is one of the most significant attractions in the North West of England, the most visited Zoo in the country and is well regarded and indeed cherished by many due to its educational and conservational work for wildlife.
As you will be aware, the Zoo is now facing mounting financial pressure with a significant maintenance cost of £1.6m per month. Due to the Zoo being asked to potentially close indefinitely this has left the highly regarded and internationally valued institution under threat of closure.
Over the course of this month, many non-essential retail establishments will be opening their doors to the public in both outdoor as well as indoor premises. I would also highlight that Merlin Entertainments, the owner of Alton Towers and various other attractions, has recently planned to reopen its parks whilst meeting Government guidelines. Therefore, Chester Zoo with its large outdoor spacing covering 128 acres should also be suitable for reopening of the park within a similar capacity.
I am also aware that the Zoo has already announced a variety of safety measures that can be put in place if the attraction is given permission to reopen. These measures, which reduce visitor numbers in conjunction with the large open-air space, would be suitable for social distancing measures to be observed.
Finally, the loss of this well-regarded attraction would not only put an end to the vital animal conservation work that the Zoo performs but would also result in a significant loss of jobs, damaging the local economy.
Therefore, I would like to request that you allow Chester Zoo to reopen with the appropriate guidelines and social distancing measures in place to safeguard the staff, guests and the animals at the park.
Thank you in anticipation of your response.
Member of Parliament for Bolton West & Atherton