The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) is delighted to have helped secure £100 million for England’s zoos and aquariums, announced by UK Government today. This fund may help zoos and aquariums in dire need. However, the fund will not meet the requirements of some of our largest and best-known zoos and Government is being urged to make changes to the scheme.
The £100 million Zoo Support Fund aims to help zoos and aquariums get through the difficult seasons ahead. The funding is a significant expansion of the £14 million Zoo Support Fund established in May.
“This fund will be a lifeline for many and will help ensure our members can continue to provide the highest possible standards of animal care through the coming months. However, without changes to eligibility, this funding will not be accessible to all of our brilliant zoos, meaning our larger zoos and aquariums are left unsupported.”
“Larger zoos, which demonstrated the depth of public support for the sector, have been massively impacted by the lockdown, but the way the current Zoo Support Fund is set up means it is only applicable to a limited number of zoos. It is essential this new expanded scheme addresses this.”
“BIAZA stands ready to work with Defra to help ensure that this money reaches our zoos and aquariums, large and small” said Dr Cerian Tatchley, Acting Joint Director of BIAZA.
The announcement follows months of lobbying from BIAZA, including countless parliamentary questions, weekly meetings with Defra, meetings with MPs, the Minister and a high-profile public campaign led by zoos. Zoos and aquariums have not been able to furlough essential keeping and veterinary staff, so they have been unable to reduce costs even as income disappeared over the normally busy season.
BIAZA members normally receive over 35 million visitors each year, the majority of which falls between spring and summer. This essential income goes towards the high cost of animal care and crucial wildlife conservation.
BIAZA will be meeting with Lord Goldsmith, the minister responsible for zoos and aquariums, and are looking forward to working with him to maximise the usefulness of this fund for zoos and aquariums. In the announcement from Defra, the Minister committed to working with the sector to ensure it gets the help it needs.
The tragic spread of coronavirus has been linked to the over exploitation of nature – with zoos and aquariums at the forefront of the fightback for nature BIAZA believes it is right they are more fully supported.
“As we face an extinction crisis, and as our zoos and aquariums have proven their valuable role as controlled, safe spaces for the public, they must be assisted to continue their critical work” continued Dr Tatchley.
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