Northumberland zoo reveals funding frustrations as it misses out on £200,000 Easter takings again

A Northumberland zoo has criticised Government support for animal attractions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 7:00 am

Maxine Bradley, curator of the Northumberland Country Zoo at Eshott, believes the Zoo Support Fund has failed it and many other zoological collections in the UK.

Grants are capped at £100,000 but she is also critical of the eiligibility requirement to provide proof of emails to members of the public asking for donations and proof that it had first asked for a loan from a commercial bank.

Expenditure at Northumberland Country Zoo is around £40,000 a month, well short of the sums required by larger zoos, but still a considerable amount over the course of the pandemic.

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Maxine Bradley of Northumberland Country Zoo.

“The main issues that we have with this process is the fact that it is capped at £100,000, regardless of your collection size,” explained Maxine. “That won't help larger collections at all.

"How can the Zoo Support Fund be capped at £100,000, when they still have to keep animal care staff, management staff, security, gun and maintenance staff working throughout lockdown? Zoos cannot furlough these staff with animals still on-site to look after.

"This would not have been such a kick if the government had helped support us to continue paying non-furloughed staff. Instead, our monies which we earned between lockdowns last year have continued to dwindle as we continue to employ 10 full-time animal keepers as well as our maintenance staff and management team with no visitor income to help pay staff.

"This is particularly frustrating as during this current period now, leading up the the Easter holidays (where we won't be allowed to open) we would be expecting to take a further £200,000.

“We will not get this now at one of our busiest times of the year. That's two years without the income from Easter Holidays.

“This is the Zoo Support Fund in a nutshell, and Covid-19 has left an incredible scar on this industry which the government has overlooked massively.”

Northumberland Country Zoo was successful in getting a £100,000 bank loan but Maxine says this made it ineligible for the Zoo Support Fund and with a large debt to be repaid.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in the budget that the Zoo Animals Fund will be extended until June 30, providing continued support for animal care and essential maintenance costs.

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