As the coronavirus outbreak appears at last to be abating, it is time to look to the future and the safe reopening of our economy. Many businesses that have been features of our area for many years urgently need to get going again if they are to survive.
One such business is the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay. Indeed, it is more than a business; it has been a much-loved part of the town’s life for some 57 years. It is also the National Zoo of Wales and an internationally-respected conservation charity. Its snow leopard breeding programme, for example, is world renowned.
The zoo closed its doors on 22 March and has not opened since. However, it costs over £30,000 per week to continue to run it. Although the zoo has had the benefit of some support under the Government’s furlough scheme, it is, of course, impossible to furlough zookeepers. They are therefore been kept employed without the benefit of any income to support them. The zoo, at the moment, is running on its resources, which are dwindling fast.
Though the zoo has had some support from the Economic Resilience Fund, it is disappointing that the Welsh Government (WG) has not seen fit to replicate in Wales the Zoo Support Fund the has been put in place by Defra in England. If it were available in Wales, it would mean up to another £100,000 for the zoo, which would be something of a lifeline.
I have written to the WG requesting that they urgently implement a Welsh version of the Zoo Support Fund and hope that I will obtain a positive response.
In the meantime, consideration must be given to when and how the coronavirus restrictions are to be lifted. Certain enterprises, such as zoos, should be first in line for relaxation, given that they are open-air attractions where maintaining social distancing is no great problem. The sooner that day comes, consistent with public safety, the better.
In the meantime, if you would like to help the zoo at this difficult time, you can make a donation online at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/