Yorkshire Wildlife Park wants zoo lockdown stance reviewed

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Two tigers at Yorkshire Wildlife ParkImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Yorkshire Wildlife Park has more than 450 animals at its site in Branton, near Doncaster

A wildlife park which says lockdown has cost it £5m in lost revenue is urging the government to review its decision not to allow zoos to re-open.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster says it is struggling with high feeding bills for its animals.

Chief Executive John Minion said many shops and even National Trust grounds could reopen on 15 June, but not zoos.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said public health had to be protected.

Mr Minion said: "Wildlife parks and zoos are shocked and confused not to have been included in the government's list of venues that can re-open, despite gardens and National Trust grounds and from 15 June even shopping centres and non-essential retail being given the green light.

"Zoos around the country are now struggling as they still have high care and feeding bills for their animals."

The boss of Chester Zoo Jamie Christon, which has been closed to visitors since 21 March, had been told by the government to prepare to stay shut "indefinitely".

Mr Minion added: "The lockdown has cost the park around £5m in lost revenue.

"In addition to this the monthly cost of looking after and feeding the animals and maintaining the park in lockdown is circa £300,000 per month.

"Like other zoos and parks, we have highly dedicated staff team who are working to give the best care to our animals throughout the lockdown.

"That still has to be funded and we cannot sustain this drain on our resources forever."

A Defra spokesperson said: "We understand the challenges faced by zoos and aquariums during these unprecedented times but it's vital that we do not move too quickly in reopening to ensure public health is protected."

Parliament will debate the the need to support zoos, wildlife parks and aquariums during the lockdown on Thursday 11 June.

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