Coronavirus: Northumberland zoo to provide video updates during closure period
A Northumberland zoo has been forced to close – but has come up with a new way of ensuring animal lovers can keep up to date.
The Northumberland Country Zoo, near Eshott, has created a Youtube channel and will post regular videos featuring its keepers and animals.
The zoo, home to around 400 animals, announced its temporary closure on Monday in line with government guidance on social distancing due to coronavirus.
“We need to protect our staff, animals and visitors,” said zoo curator Maxine Bradley. “We will, however, still be here and still be looking after our amazing extended family of furred and feathered animals.
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“We do not want you to miss out on our continuous developments and our day-to-day happenings. So we will be bringing the zoo to you.
“We feel this is a way of diversifying in the current climate.”
However, there are major worries about the financial consequences of closure with zookeepers still needed to look after the animals.
“The issue that we have is that we can't work from home, the animals are still here and still need looking after,” said Maxine.
“All money generated from visitors to the zoo is immediately reinvested into the staff, animals and development of the collection.
“The sequence of events that we are suffering with at the moment is no one's fault, however we have no idea how to move forward and even imagine the future.”
The timing is also cruel, shortly before the new visitor season was scheduled to start and following a significant investment on a new themed restaurant, Bear Falls Cafe.
“We are/were one of the fastest growing visitor attractions in the North East and had high hopes for the future,” said Maxine.
“In 2020, we were due to hit the 100,000 visitor mark, but this is clearly not going to be the case.”
There is also uncertainty about the level of financial support it will be eligible for.
“If we were able to access the 80% support for all staff including our keepers, then we would be able to survive this crisis and keep all of our staff on board during this rough journey,” said Maxine.
“However, with the current offer, we would be forced to lay off all non-keeper staff and funds for the keepers will run out at some point leaving the welfare of the animals at risk.
“We need answers. The prime minister has spoken of suggestions for financial support for businesses, however we are struggling to access this and there is no set date on any of these offers so we are unable to plan ahead.
“We appreciate that we are not the only people in this situation, there are a lot of zoos and businesses across the UK who are in the same boat who are worrying about their future.”
Find out how to support the zoo at www.northumberlandzoo.co.uk/