Bristol Zoological Society welcomes reopening news for UK zoos

Bristol Zoological Society today (Wed) welcomed the government announcement which means zoos across the UK can start planning to reopen.

It is a great first step for the Society, which operates two of the region’s biggest tourist attractions – Wild Place Project and Bristol Zoo Gardens.

The announcement last night that zoos could begin welcoming visitors from next week ended an intensive period of talks and lobbying.

Bristol Zoo and Wild Place have been closed since March 21 leading to losses of several million pounds.

Today Dr Justin Morris, Chief Executive of Bristol Zoological Society, said: “This is fantastic news and a great step forward. We are all thrilled to think that we can re-open our doors again and we want to thank everyone for the incredible support they have shown us during this difficult time.”

Bristol Zoological Society is now awaiting official news from the government, which is expected today (Weds June 10), followed by more detailed guidance on June 13.

Meanwhile the Society is planning the re-opening of its two zoos, finalising weeks of behind-the-scenes work to implement a host of new measures, including essential buying of tickets online in advance for timed entry slots, to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.

The Society has confirmed that it intends to open Wild Place Project before Bristol Zoo Gardens and will announce an expected opening date soon.

Visitors to Wild Place can expect to see new, one-way systems across the site, extra hand-washing facilities and signage as a reminder to maintain social distancing. It will also be essential for visitors to buy timed tickets in advance of their visit. Existing members will also be asked to pre-book their timed visit slot.

Dr Morris added: “We have gone to considerable lengths to ensure that when we do open again all our visitors as well as our staff and volunteers will be safe.

“We are bringing in these measures to ensure we can control the number of people on site and offer everyone a safe, responsible and enjoyable visit.”

Dr Morris added: “I want to be there to see the first people through the doors and to say a very warm but socially distanced welcome back. And together with our visitors we can continue our work of saving wildlife together.”

But Dr Morris warned that it is still a difficult time for zoos due to huge revenue losses and ongoing concerns about future revenue.

“There is no doubt that this is excellent news for us as well as Zoos across the UK,” he said. “But we are still in a very difficult position financially and we are not on safe ground yet.

“We are very much hoping that people will continue showing us the fantastic support we have received over the past few months, and our fundraising appeal continues to be essential.”

Bristol Zoological Society not only operates Bristol Zoo and Wild Place Project but has a world-wide reputation for being at the forefront of conservation breeding, science, education and research. The Society is involved in 93 co-ordinated breeding programmes for threatened wildlife species.

It also directs 14 field conservation projects in 10 countries that conserve and protect some of the world’s most endangered species including gorillas, giraffes and lemurs.

The Society recently launched an appeal to ensure the future of its work ‘saving wildlife together’. The Society, which is a registered charity, has launched the BZS Appeal following the temporary closure of both its sites in Bristol in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Find out more, or make a donation here.

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