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The fundraiser for Chester Zoo has hit £2 million, following an urgent plea to animal lovers while the site remains closed to visitors.
Like many popular attractions, Chester Zoo was forced to close earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning it had to turn to its fans for help.
An update on the JustGiving page in April explained: "While we welcome the governments announcement to create a support fund for zoos, our interpretation of the limited guidance we have been sent is that it won't be aimed at large, charity zoos like Chester Zoo. Therefore, as a conservation and education charity, we must continue our fundraising efforts."
But earlier this week, the zoo took to Facebook to say it had reached the point where it 'desperately' needed more help, following news that zoos would not be among the outdoor venues allowed to soon reopen.
Calling on a huge push from the general public, the zoo said: "As the UK's biggest and most popular charity zoo, we've tried to stay positive during this pandemic.
"Our conservationists have continued to prevent extinction, our virtual days have cheered up the nation, and our learning resources have helped thousands of home-schooling families.
"We wanted to remain a beacon of hope. We really tried.
"But now, as the government has ordered that we may have to stay closed indefinitely, it hurts us to say that this crisis has left us fighting for our future.
"Not being able to open, despite being a huge outdoor site with all the necessary safety measures in place, is having a devastating impact on our much-loved zoo. We're heading towards debt in excess of £24m by the end of 2020 - this will financially cripple us. We need to raise £1.6m each month to keep going.
"Meanwhile, we're having to sit back and watch as people are piling onto beaches and into public parks, where there is no way of controlling numbers, no way of guaranteeing people are socially distanced and no way of ensuring safety. We, can do all of this.
"We look on as, from this week, private gardens open up, while our own 128 acres of gardens and 16km of pathways remain closed, and under enormous financial pressure.
"We REFUSE to cut corners when it comes to caring for the animals. We REFUSE to give up on our fight to prevent extinction. And because of that, we've now reached the point where we desperately NEED YOUR HELP."
Just one day after the urgent plea went out, the zoo said the support had been amazing, saying: "The last 24 hours have been INCREDIBLE.
"Your support has given us a MASSIVE boost during what is, without doubt, the biggest crisis this great charity has ever faced.
"We must continue our fight to SAVE OUR ZOO and all of the vital conservation work we do."
Donate via JustGiving here.
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