COLCHESTER Zoo bosses have warned of a "huge" number redundancies at the facility if support doesn't come from the Government.

Kind-hearted residents have donated more than £100,000 to help Colchester Zoo survive the coronavirus pandemic, with donations of fruits and protective equipment also flooding in.

But the Maldon Road zoo has been closed for ten weeks and still faced bills of around £25,000 a day to look after its hundreds of species.

A spokesman for the zoo said: "Whilst Furlough has helped zoos with wages, even closed, a zoo still requires a huge number of staff to deal with the welfare of the animals, the maintenance to ensure all the systems, including life systems, remain in working order.

"In addition, cost for electricity, water and heating remains more or less at the same level even if we have no visitors.

"We have always been careful with our money here at Colchester Zoo and because of this we have survived with money originally allocated to construction projects and improvements but we are scrapping the bottom of the barrel now.

"People have been amazing and donations have gone over £100,000 and we are extremely grateful to everyone for their generosity.

"Our staff have also been amazing and deserve the same respect NHS staff have received from the public."

The zoo is hoping to be able to reopen in the coming weeks, however bosses have called for the Government to give it clarity so it can prepare for all eventualities.

They want to know when they will be allowed to open, how many visitors will be allowed, what safety measures will be in place and whether additional financial support will come from the Government.

Bosses say this year's turnover is likely to be between 30 and 50 per cent of 2019's and have warned a "huge" number of redundancies are possible.

The spokesman said: "If no clear help is available, we expect the number of redundancies to be huge because of the loss of income.

"The UK and the Government must understand zoo’s are different because of their livestock. Different to any other business and unless assistance comes now many could simply vanish – this would be tragic.

"Zoos need to open to continue to be able to provide the high standard of care to the animals and to protect endangered species from extinction.

"Zoos can’t last much longer being closed – zoos too have become endangered."

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