The charity which runs Africa Alive in Suffolk and Banham Zoo in Norfolk has been awarded a lifeline Zoo Animals Fund grant of £752,000.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has given the grant to The Zoological Society of East Anglia which runs both attractions.
£498,000 has been specifically awarded to cover the animal care costs since January up until the end of March 2021 while the zoos have been closed during the third national lockdown.
A further £254,000 has been awarded to undertake urgent repairs on animal enclosures around the two zoos.
Africa Alive and Banham Zoo need a minimum of £25,000 per week to care for all of the 2,800 animals. The animal care grant will help cover their daily costs of food and bedding as well as the zoo keepers, animal curators, veterinary and other staff who look after them. Grounds maintenance and other essential costs can also be paid for by the grant.
The urgent repairs fund means that at Africa Alive much needed work can now go ahead on the Meerkat Enclosure and Lemur Island House. Whilst over at Banham Zoo work is planned on the Siamang Enclosure and on the Tiger fence posts. In total there are 12 specific repair and improvement projects.
Claudia Roberts, Joint Managing Director, Zoological Society of East Anglia, said: “A huge thank you to the Defra team and to the Government for this lifeline of support for the planned cost of animal care during this third lockdown, and to undertake much needed repairs.
“We can definitely sleep a little easier at night now that we can recoup some of our lost income, but we haven’t won the lottery in any sense and our public fundraising will continue. We lost £1.5 million of income during the first lockdown in 2020 and it’s going to be a very hard 18 months ahead. Whilst we are delighted to have an estimated opening date of 12th April, we have had no income since the start of 2021, so we still need to remain extremely vigilant in keeping our costs at the very minimum”.
South West Norfolk MP, Liz Truss, commented: “‘I am delighted that Banham Zoo and Africa Alive are to receive this funding. Working with my colleague Peter Aldous MP and local councillors, financial support for the zoo was a critical issue that we raised with ministers and the £750,000 will help maintain all the excellent work currently being done by staff and protect animal welfare.
“Banham and Africa Alive are much loved and important attractions in East Anglia and I am keen to ensure they thrive for the long-term enjoyment for everyone.”
Waveney MP, Peter Aldous, added: “It is very good news that Africa Alive and Banham Zoo are receiving a grant from the Zoo Animals Fund. Africa Alive plays a vitally important role in the local community; in wildlife conservation, providing jobs and as a major tourist attraction.
“The park also provides local people with the opportunity to walk and relax in special and unique surroundings and to gain some peace of mind, which is so important at this time, and hopefully it will not be too long before they are able to re-open. I will continue to work with the Zoological Society for East Anglia and Liz Truss to address the challenges that Covid has caused.”
A spokesperson from BIAZA, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said: “We are delighted Africa Alive and Banham Zoo have received the help they need for animal care over the next few months. We want as many zoos as possible to get the help they need in these extraordinary times. Zoos have an important role in conservation, education and science, we cannot afford to lose them.”