Thrigby wildlife park prepares to reopen under latest lockdown easing
PUBLISHED: 15:52 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:31 10 June 2020
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A popular zoo has hailed the rallying response of its supporters as it prepares to reopen after almost three months in Covid-19 lockdown.
Scott Bird, director at Thrigby Wildlife Gardens, near Great Yarmouth, said finally getting the green light from the Government was welcome news.
But Boris Johnson’s surprise announcement that zoos could open from Monday (June 15) had come too late for the attraction which had been priming the pumps for a July 4 reopening and would struggle to make things happen any sooner.
Mr Bird said the lockdown “hadn’t been easy” with just a skeleton staff in place to care for the animals.
However, he hailed the public’s generous support which had seen a surge in online animal adoptions and donations.
Reopening is subject to zoos being able to comply with 2m distancing.
This means indoor areas like the reptile house and crocodile pools will not be able to open during this phase and the cafe will be serving takeaway food only.
The play areas will also remain closed under current guidance.
MORE: Government set to give region’s zoos a ‘fighting chance of survival’
“All our preparations were for July 4, and that was what we were working towards,” he said.
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“This is very much earlier than we were expecting.
“We are still working on what the exact date might be.
“It still may be the end of this month or the beginning of July.
“We have got to wait until Friday or Saturday to get proper government advice.
“But what we are expecting is that there is going to be social distancing in place and that all our indoor buildings will be closed.
“We have got to go ahead and open but in a format that still makes it an enjoyable family day.
“Without some of our big USP’s like the crocodiles and play areas it is a bit of an unknown.”
The zoo will also need approval from Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the local licensing authority, before it can reopen.
“Out biggest challenge is how we monitor people coming in to the parks and our total capacity in the park.
“We do not know what people’s attitude will be, we do not know if people are going to be hesitant.
“But in the last week our social media pages have had a fantastic following and there is a strong feeling that people want to come back and visit.”
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