Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

David Attenborough steps in with classy gesture to save London Zoo from extinction

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Zoo has been closed for 12 weeks, six times as long as it was at the start of the Second World War. The cost of feeding the animals remained at £43,500 a month. The veteran broadcaster told the Sunday Times: “What happens if you can’t raise the money to keep the animals?

“What happens if you can’t afford the food?

“Are we supposed to put them down?

“The immediate prospect of the zoo going financially bust is too awful to think of.

“Are we, or are we not, a civilised community that it can’t support a zoo?”

The Zoo has warned it “at risk of extinction” with 18,000 animals under threat.

The money from the fundraising campaign will got to a £25million rescue package.

London and Whipsnade reopened last Monday but ZSL director-general Dominic Jermey says they remain in “dire peril”.

Due to current social distancing legislation, visitors numbers are capped at 2,000 and 3,000 respectively.

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This is compared to a maximum capacity of around 10,000 and 12,000 at the two sites.

Mr Attenborough shot to fame on Zoo Quest in 1954 and said: “No television programme can replace the actual reality of standing close to an elephant or for a child to understand what an elephant is.

“When you stand alongside the thing, where you can smell it, you can hear its stomach rumbling — the reality of what wild creatures are. To see the size of a giraffe is something extraordinary and to be reduced to an electronic picture would be a terrible thing.

“A zoo is a very important thing scientifically. London was the first scientific zoo in the world, founded nearly 200 years ago, and has been at the forefront of technology and advances ever since then. If this country can’t support it, it would be a scandal.”

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Mr Attenborough is 94-years-old and shielding from the virus in his Richmond Park home.

Frankie Hobro, the owner of Anglesey Sea Zoo, earlier this week expressed concern over the future of her zoo.

She said she was frustrated by the Welsh Government’s failure to help save the zoo.

Ms Hobro told the BBC: “The Anglesey Sea Zoo is in a particularly untenable position, with high running costs, staffing costs and the pressure of maintaining ultimate animal welfare, with absolutely no income during closure and currently no promise of when we will be allowed to reopen for our income to return.”

Zoos in Wales are yet to reopen.

Ms Hobro explained: “We had exciting plans for the Anglesey Sea Zoo in 2020, with several fundamental changes planned across the site and the prospect of an exciting expansion project on the horizon,” she added.

“Sadly, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, instead we have been faced with a fight for survival.”

London Zoo attracted over 1.1 million visitors in 2018.

In 2017, Chester Zoo had 1.9 million visitors.

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