To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the Zoo Animals fund is being effectively used to safeguard the future of British Zoos.
29 April 2021
The Zoo Animals Fund was introduced to provide for zoos who, due to a coronavirus-related drop in income are experiencing severe financial difficulties and need support in caring for their animals. If zoos are downsizing or rehoming their collection the fund can also provide support for this to ensure the animals’ welfare. We have taken many steps to make the Zoo Animals Fund accessible to those who need it including expanding the range of eligible costs so zoos could claim for costs relating to pre-planned essential maintenance and repair works as well as animal care costs, replacing the 6 week criteria and allowing applicants to apply at any time before reaching their final 12 weeks of reserves to help with their business planning and extending the fund several times. We recently extended the application deadline from 26 February 2021 to 28 May 2021 to give zoos more time to apply and have extended the support provided from the end of March 2021 to the end of June 2021.
The Zoo Animals Fund has supported a wide variety of zoos throughout the pandemic, from some of the smallest to some of the biggest – and it continues to do so. It has helped ensure the continued welfare of zoo animals and prevent unnecessary euthanasia. Only two applications have been rejected on the basis that the businesses in question were ineligible as they did not have the necessary licence or exemption. Fund recipients have reached out to express how funding has supported their animals and what a difference it has made to them to receive this help. From 12 April zoos have been able to welcome back visitors, reopening their outdoor areas as part of step two in the roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions. Allowing zoos to re-open has been an integral step towards enabling them to initiate a financial recovery. We encourage zoos in need of support in caring for their animals to apply to the Zoo Animals Fund and we will continue to work closely with the sector on reopening guidance to ensure that zoos and aquariums are able to welcome visitors safely.