Hundreds Of Animals Left Homeless After Zoo Closes Due To Coronavirus
The Wild Planet Trust has announced that it will not be re-opening its Living Coasts site as other zoos begin to reopen during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Located in Torquay, Devon, Living Coasts is one of the biggest visitor attractions in the region, and is home to many marine species, including otters, seals, penguins, rays and puffins.
Each of the 44 staff at Living Coasts are now at risk of redundancy, which will reportedly be considered ‘within the context of the wider restructuring of the Trust’s zoos’. There may also be potential redundancies at Paignton Zoo and Newquay Zoo.
The Wild Planet Trust – which owns Living Coasts, Paignton Zoo and Newquay Zoo – has issued the following statement:
It is with regret that Wild Planet Trust has to announce that it will not be re-opening Living Coasts as a visitor attraction following its closure during the current global coronavirus pandemic.
Falling visitor numbers as well as the forced closure of all the the Wild Planet Trust sites during the pandemic has forced the trust to ‘look at its cost base and make efficiencies’.
Living Coasts has been welcoming visitors for almost twenty years, and is reportedly in need of ‘substantial maintenance that the Trust is no longer in a position to afford’.
The statement continues:
The next stage is to find homes for the animals. Living Coasts is part of a world-wide network of zoos and aquariums and we will be looking for homes for the animals within them once movement restrictions have been lifted.
Most of the animals kept at Living Coasts are marine species that will need specialist facilities. Living Coasts is confident that good new homes for the animals will be found, but at present it is unclear how long this process may take.
As per ITV News, Simon Tonge from the Wild Planet Trust said:
Unfortunately, as wage costs account for over 50% of operating costs, making posts redundant is something we are, regrettably, having to consider.
Yesterday, we started a collective consultation with our staff which, including those based at Living Coasts, could result in over 100 posts being made redundant.
As of Monday, June 15, outdoor attractions such as zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas have begun to reopen, following an announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Many zoos have incurred significant costs caring for animals during closure, whilst losing millions of pounds worth of revenue.
Following this new relaxation of the rules, restrictions on daily visitor numbers have now been implemented in accordance with social distancing measures.
Fundraising campaigns to protect the Wild Planet Trust’s zoos have raised more than £100,000 since March 23. However, as per ITV News, ‘much, much more’ is needed if the sites are to get through the next few months.
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