Yorkshire Wildlife Park gears up to reopen as Government allows zoos to open

The award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park is delighted at news that the government has reviewed its decision on current restrictions on the reopening of zoos and safari parks ahead of today’s parliamentary debate when MP’s will discuss the crisis facing zoos and aquariums.

The park had taken a severe financial hit as even with 70% of staff furloughed there are still high care and feed bills for their animals. The lockdown has cost the park around £5 million in lost revenue and is impacting its ability to carry out award-winning conservation projects. In addition to this the monthly cost of looking after and feeding the animals and maintaining the park in lockdown is circa £300,000 per month. 

YWP called on its supporters to support the park and other zoos around the country by urging their Members of Parliament to take up the plight of zoos and aquariums with government in this debate: #YourZoosNeedYou. Almost 3000 people downloaded the letter template to send to their MP’s and the park has been deeply touched by the support and the positive messages that it has received. 

“We are very grateful for the level of support that we have received from our supporters who have campaigned to help us reopen. We now aim to open next Monday 15th June with restrictions in place in line with government guidance. The safety and health of our staff team, our visitors and our animals are paramount. We have carried out detailed planning to look at how we can control numbers through only selling advance tickets with time slots and how we needed to adapt the site and our protocols for visitor management and cleaning in line with government guidance. Many zoos have already opened up in Europe, Ireland and on Jersey and we have been learning from their experience,” said John Minion, Chief Executive of the park at Branton, near Doncaster.

“The park is home to more than 450 animals, including many endangered species, and we are a centre for educational and conservation work, which has had to be put on hold. We are delighted that we can once again welcome our visitors to our park.”

The park is an important educational resource for the region and through the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation raises funds for conservation and animal welfare projects around the globe. Several ground breaking conservation projects overseas are now on hold for this year due to lack of funding. 

YWP attracted more than 760,000 visitors last year and has won a string of accolades for its initiatives and animal care. It is a major driver of economy into the region with a contribution of over 12.85m GVA (Gross Value Added) annually. The park is also one of the largest local employers with nearly 250 staff on the payroll. The park is an important educational resource for the region and through the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation raises funds for conservation and animal welfare projects around the globe.

“Like other zoos and parks, we have highly dedicated staff team who have worked tirelessly to give the best care to our animals throughout the lockdown,” added Mr Minion. 

“Seeing the park open again will be morale-boosting for the local community and our visitors from around the region. It will be a boost for local businesses too as we have over 980 suppliers that have been impacted by our closure. We are grateful for the support so far, and we hope that this will be sustained by people visiting the park to help us through the coming months as it will take a long time to recover financially from this enforced shutdown."

A restricted number of tickets will go on sale at the weekend on the park website www.yorkshirewildlifepark.com . Facilities will be limited in line with government guidelines with play areas and indoor areas closed and take away food and drink on offer. Full information will be available on the website.