ZSL London Zoo will open its gates to visitors on Monday 15th June for the first time since its historic closure on Saturday 21st March - after months of lost revenue put the oldest scientific zoo in the world in a perilous position.
Staff at the iconic outdoor attraction have been busy preparing the zoo for visitors while waiting for the green light to open the gates; numerous measures are now in place to ensure that the zoo is a safe, inspiring place for visitors to enjoy the wonders of wildlife, while supporting ZSL’s vital science and conservation work.
Additional handwashing facilities and sanitiser stations have been placed across the Zoo, while 2m distance markers have been laid out in exhibits and one-way routes introduced to control the flow of visitors. The Zoo’s Terrace Restaurant will remain closed for now - with feeding time for visitors replaced by takeaway provisions at a number of snack bars across site.
ZSL London Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer, Kathryn England, said: “We’re delighted that we can once again welcome visitors to ZSL London Zoo. We’ve gone to great lengths to make the Zoo a welcoming and safe space for people to visit, including installing additional hand sanitation points and creating colourful one-way wildlife walks across our 36-acre grounds - ensuring visitors can experience the natural world while observing social distancing.
“After weeks of behind-the-scenes work - painting route markers and putting up more than 2,000 new directions and signs - we’re looking forward to connecting people with nature again, a mission that has been the beating heart of ZSL for nearly 200 years.”
While the news is certainly cause for celebration, it does not signal the end of ZSL’s urgent fundraising efforts: the increased safety measures mean London Zoo will be offering pre-allocated, timed entry slots, limited to just 2,000 visitors a day - well below the numbers needed to recoup the charity’s costs.
Director General Dominic Jermey added: “Reopening is an important step towards securing ZSL’s future but is by no means an instant fix. We rely heavily on zoo ticket sales to fund our vital conservation work, and after months of enforced closure we still urgently need support.
“We battened down the hatches to weather the storm - furloughing staff and cutting costs wherever possible - but our animals, many of which are threatened in the wild, need the same outstanding level of animal care whether we are open or closed.
“We are enormously grateful to all those who have generously donated to our cause during this unprecedented time, but we still need support to get our zoos back on their feet, our conservationists working back in the field and our scientists investigating wildlife diseases such as Covid-19.”