BIAZA has today, on the original deadline for the Government’s Zoo Animals Fund, called for a full replacement of the scheme to support zoos, aquariums and safari parks through the pandemic.
The £100 million fund, established by Government in response to the coronavirus crisis, has failed to support the vast majority of the sector and has been criticised by zoos, the public and politicians for its’ inaccessibility.
Last Friday (13 November), Government announced an extension to the deadline of the scheme, which will now accept applications up to 29 January 2021. BIAZA has lobbied intensely for many changes to the fund, and is therefore pleased to have secured an extension which may stand to benefit a number of members. However, the change will not provide the level of support the sector needs and many members are effectively excluded.
“We appreciate the unprecedented nature of the Zoo Animals Fund, which we pushed hard to secure, but current restrictions mean very little of this fund will be spent.” Said Andrew Hall, spokesperson for BIAZA.
“The extension recognises the existential challenges the second lockdown poses to the zoos, aquariums and safari parks. It is therefore puzzling why we are not seeing more significant changes that would open up the scheme to the nations beloved zoos”
At the time of writing BIAZA understands that only five zoo licence holders have been awarded grants from the Zoo Animals Fund despite being announced in June. The fund has been unfortunately designed in a way that makes it inaccessible to the vast majority of the sector. The scheme requires 12 weeks reserves which does not reflect the needs of animal care organisations.
Under lockdown restrictions, zoos, aquariums and safari parks in England are currently shut to visitors. Together with the lockdown earlier this year, this has wreaked financial devastation across the sector, putting at risk vital conservation, education and research work. Reopening as soon as possible is essential says BIAZA:
“We need two things. Firstly, BIAZA is offering to help Government with a complete rethink of the support for zoos in this crisis. Secondly, zoos, aquariums and safari parks, and the conservation work they do cannot afford to miss out on the Christmas period, we must see them reopen for visitors to enjoy.” Continued Hall.
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