That is the stark warning issued by Maxine Bradley, curator at the family-run, not-for-profit business, near Eshott.
She has so far retained her full-time keeper workforce so they can continue to care for the zoo’s 400 animals, yet without vital visitor revenue or government support, she says she is faced with an ‘unthinkable decision’.
It comes as the Gazette is running our #SupportLocal campaign aimed at promoting local businesses at this difficult time.
“We know and understand that the shutdown is affecting a large number of businesses, yet unlike many, we are unable to work from home as we are doing everything to ensure the welfare of our animals on site,” she said.
“We had been gearing up for a huge Easter 2020 to help kickstart the year; we were also planning to unveil our fantastic new restaurant facility and launch a new vital captive breeding conservation project for a native species.
“We are so unsure of what the future holds for Northumberland Zoo and never thought we would be in the position to have to ask the public for additional support, but now more than ever, we – our collective family of staff and our beautiful animals – need their help.”
Maxine is calling on the Government to change its position regarding the 80% wage support package.
She says the current lack of support for staff who are still needing to come to work means she is forced to lay off all non-keeper staff, retaining only a small team of keepers to care full time for the animals.
Without financial support, however, funds for the keeping staff will soon run dry, leaving the welfare of the animals at serious risk.
The zoo is also calling on the wider community to pledge their support and help safeguard its survival.
There are a number of ways that people can help, including direct donations, purchasing admission tickets online (valid for two years), adopting an animal or purchasing an annual membership.
The Zoo has also launched its #BringtheZootoYou YouTube channel, helping people in lockdown to keep in touch with weekly goings on.
Visit www.northumberlandzoo.co.uk to donate.