Posted: Thu 21st May 2020

Calls for support for North Wales zoos and aquariums facing ‘desperate situation’ during coronavirus pandemic

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Thursday, May 21st, 2020

The Welsh Government has been urged to back Welsh zoos and aquariums amid fears that the ongoing lockdown could leave them in a “desperate situation” and even having to euthanise animals.

Several Welsh Tory MPs have written to the First Minister urging them to replicate a new scheme set up by the UK Government specifically to protect tourist attractions such as the Anglesey Sea Zoo in Llanfairpwll.

Under the scheme in operation in England, zoos and aquariums are eligible for a welfare grant of up to £100,000 from a £14m fund to maintain their stock of animals while they miss out on their bread and butter income from visitors.

But fearing that zoos in Wales are missing out, Anglesey’s MP’s has urged ministers on this side of Offa’s Dyke to take immediate action.

“These businesses are located within our constituencies, and are important tourist attractions which provide valuable local jobs,” said Virginia Crosbie MP.

“It is vital that they are supported and remain in a position to protect the welfare of animals on site.

“Whilst some of them have received assistance via the Economic Resilience Fund, this provides only limited support, and unless more funding is received, it may be necessary to close down these important attractions and, as a last resort, euthanise the stock of animals.

“It is hard to conceive of a more heartbreaking eventuality,”

“This financial assistance is hugely important, because at a time when these attractions must remain shut and are therefore generating no income, they face ongoing costs.

“These costs include keepers’ wages; animal feed and bedding; veterinary care and medicines; electricity and heating; and waste removal.”

Frankie Hobro, from Anglesey Sea Zoo, said that while they had received funding from the ERF,  it was not a “long term” solution.

“I don’t want to sound ungrateful for what I have already received, but we have to protect the future of the business for everyone on Anglesey.

“If further funding is not available, we may find ourselves back in a desperate situation, and that is not something we want to happen.

“This business must stay open for future generations.”

During a session of the Welsh Parliament last week, responding to a question from Darren Millar MS, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths MS, said: “At the current time, we haven’t committed to a zoo scheme because zoos were able to apply for funding from the economic resilience scheme, which, as you appreciate, is unique to Wales.

“Officials wrote to all the zoos in Wales with details of the existing schemes from which they would be eligible for funding. But we also issued a questionnaire alongside that correspondence so that we could identify what key animal welfare concerns were out there with the zoos.

“Most have indicated that they’ve been able to access the funding that was already available, and either they’ve received or they’ve applied for the funding from various Government schemes.

“So, we will obviously keep a close eye on it but, at the moment, I’m not bringing forward a specific scheme because I don’t think there is the need for that at the moment.

“But obviously, animal health and welfare are very important, so we’ll keep it under review.”

In a bid to help the zoo in the meantime, a crowdfunding campaign has been set up which can be found by visiting: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/seazoo

It is also possible to donate and purchase gift vouchers and annual passes from www.angleseyseazoo.co.uk

By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter



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