ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s resident animals are fluffing up their feathers and stretching their legs as they prepare to swing open the gates on Monday 15 June and welcome visitors back after three months of closure.
The UK’s largest Zoo is now set to welcome up to 3,000 pre-booked ticket holders per day, and let visitors reconnect with the wonders of wildlife and nature after lockdown.
Run by international conservation charity ZSL, Whipsnade Zoo is home to hundreds of threatened species, many of which are part of international conservation breeding programmes including Asian elephants, white rhinos, sloth bears and Amur tigers.
Visitors will be able to get their first glimpse of the adorable new-borns that the Zoo welcomed during lockdown, including 14 extinct-in-the-wild Pere David Deer fawns, a Yak calf named Ginny, five wild boar piglets and a newly-hatched wattled crane.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Chief Operating Officer, Owen Craft said; “We are so excited to welcome visitors back to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, and see people interacting with our animals once again.
“We know that people have missed us, and we’ve certainly missed them. We are looking forward to welcoming our members, neighbours and wildlife-lovers alike back to our nature haven. Families will be able to explore our vast park, breathe in fresh air and let the kids explore nature safely.”
HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis said; "I am so delighted to hear that Whipsnade Zoo, a jewel in the crown of Bedfordshire, will open its doors once again to the public. It makes me smile to think of families wandering through the vast acres of Whipsnade and enjoying engaging with the splendid animals that live there.
“The Elephant House, opened by HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, not so long ago, is just one of my personal favourites. My own family have spent many happy days over the years in this remarkable place and I wish you well as you welcome everyone back to enjoy this special treat".
Situated on the Chiltern Hills, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is a vast 600-acres nature haven, while visitors can enjoy their day on foot the Zoo, they can also drive across visiting the resident animals along the way.
Regular visitors will notice some changes to their usual Zoo visit, as the Zoo has worked hard to ensure its visitors can maintain social distancing and enjoy a safe day out, including using contactless entry points and takeaway service only from the zoo’s popular restaurants.
Mr Craft added: “We’ve been working hard on adaptions across the 600-acre site to ensure all our visitors can enjoy their day safely. We’ve added floor markings to clearly indicate two metres and will be allowing entry only to those who have pre-booked so that we can manage numbers.
Indoor exhibits including the Butterfly House and Aquarium will remain closed in order to comply with social distancing guidelines, and visitors will be encouraged to maintain the recommended space from other guests while visiting the Zoo. There will be increased handwashing facilities restrooms will be open with a new queuing system, while picnic benches will be cleaned regularly to ensure visitors can enjoy a relaxing picnic during their visit.
Mr Craft continued: “Although we are able to allow limited visitors back to our Zoo we are still working hard to recover the income lost during the closure.
“We’ve been overawed by the loyalty and support shown to us during lockdown, and we ask that people continue to help us once we reopen – be that by purchasing an annual membership, doing their own fundraising challenge or making a donation, it all helps fund our science and conservation work and ensures our remarkable Zoo continues to preserve and care for precious wildlife.”