Living Coasts In Torquay Has Become The First UK Zoo To Close Down Because Of Coronavirus
Living Coasts will not be reopening after finding it impossible to manage the 'substantial maintenance' costs they have incurred during lockdown.
Zoos in England have been given the go-ahead to reopen their gates once again as of yesterday (Monday 15), but several are taking a bit of extra time.
Now, Living Coasts has been forced to close down altogether.
That means the animals that live in the zoo - which has been open for nearly 20 years - have been left without a home, and must be relocated.
They're in the process of trying to find homes for all the animals to avoid the need to euthanise any, which would be a real tragedy.
Also, the 44 members of staff employed by the zoo are now at risk of redundancy.
In a statement on the official website, a spokesperson for Living Coasts said: "It is with regret that Wild Planet Trust has to announce that it will not be re-opening Living Coasts as a visitor attraction following its closure during the current global coronavirus pandemic.
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"Falling visitor numbers and the forced closure of all its zoos due to Covid-19 has meant that it has had to look at its cost base and make efficiencies.
"After nearly 20 years of operation the site also needed substantial maintenance that the Trust is no longer in a position to afford."
The statement continued: "The next stage is to find homes for the animals. Living Coasts is part of a world-wide network of zoos and aquariums and we will be looking for homes for the animals within them once movement restrictions have been lifted.
"Most of the animals kept at Living Coasts are marine species that will need specialist facilities. Living Coast is confident that good new homes for the animals will be found, but at present it is unclear how long this process may take."
"Our priority is the welfare of our animals. In the unlikely event that we cannot find housing that suits their needs, we may need to the make the difficult decision to euthanise. As things stand, we do not anticipate that this is a likely scenario.
"This will be considered within the context of the wider restructuring of the Trust's zoos, and potential redundancies at their other sites (Paignton Zoo and Newquay Zoo)."
The attraction has become a hugely popular place for schools to visit, as well as the general public, since opening in 2003.
The spokesperson said that they had taken in more than 6,500 visitors from schools each year, and introduced them to the wildlife that lives in coastal regions, as well as bringing marine conservation to live.
The statement continued: "Wild Planet Trust would like to thank the many people who have visited and supported Living Coasts over the years, and the many businesses, and grant giving trusts which have support our vital conservation work."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS