AFTER being closed to visitors for seven weeks, Jersey Zoo has reopened its gates having first implemented several new measures in order to provide a safe environment for visitors, staff and animals.
Some of the precautions the zoo has taken include:
- Visitor numbers limited to 500 per day
- All visitors must book tickets in advance for specific half-hour entry time slots to manage numbers safely
- All staff and visitors over the age of eight must wear face masks
- Floor markings demarcate 2-metre distances to manage queues
- Protective screening is in place at contact points
- Many indoor animal areas remain closed
- Keeper Talks are cancelled
- Zoo cafés offer takeaway options only
A successful reopening trial on Sunday 10th May was carried out with staff and volunteers, which left the Jersey Zoo team feeling confident that they could start welcoming visitors back through their gates on Tuesday 12th May.
Commenting on the zoo’s reopening, Durrell’s CEO Dr Lesley Dickie said:
“The entire team at Durrell is so pleased to be able to welcome people into the zoo once again, and we are confident that we can do so in a safe and responsible manner. We have been preparing behind the scenes for a few weeks now and liaising with the Government of Jersey to ensure we are doing everything we can to make the zoo safe.
“Staying at home has been difficult for so many people, and I feel it’s a really positive step to be able to reopen the zoo, which is such an important place for our island community and reminds people of the beauty of the natural world. We know that better mental health is positively linked to being better connected with nature. Many have struggled with mental health challenges due to lockdown, and we see our opening as helping people reset, breathe again and start to reengage.”
Jersey Zoo is home to Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the international charity founded by Gerald Durrell. The Trust’s vision of a ‘wilder, healthier, more colourful world’ has never been more poignant than during this global pandemic. The planet, and the species we share it with, is under threat and, habitat loss, species declines, wildlife markets and the illegal wildlife trade are only increasing these pressures. Durrell’s work protecting habitats and endangered species to rebuild a healthy natural world has never been more vital.
Dr Dickie went on to explain that the Trust would feel the impact of COVID-19 for many months, he said:
“As a charity, it has been a very challenging time, and we will, unfortunately, suffer a huge income loss this year not only from the zoo being closed for nearly two months, but we have cancelled many fundraising events and also closed our charity shop. Our members have been so loyal and supportive, and many people have generously donated to our ‘Love Your Zoo’ appeal, however, with no summer tourists, we will still have a significant funding gap. For us, it will feel like having three winters in a row.”
On Monday 11th May, the Government of Jersey announced the move to level three of the island’s Safe Exit Framework and that the time permitted outside of the household for outdoor recreation increased to six hours. Being a predominantly open-air, 32-acre site with wide pathways and large open areas, Jersey Zoo had been working on their reopening plan for several weeks so that they could safely welcome back visitors when restrictions were eased.
Full safety measures and FAQs can be found here.