Banham Zoo and Africa Alive launch grand reopening
Banham Zoo is ready to welcome customers back with open paws after announcing a date for the return of visitors.
The zoo will throw open its doors on April 12, with the first five days reserved for annual pass holders. Members of the public will then be invited to book slots from April 17 onwards.
Claudia Roberts, CEO of the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), said: “We are delighted to be reopening again and sharing our beautiful open spaces and diverse collection of animals with the community that have supported us so much over the last year.
“We recognise that the last lockdown over the winter months has been particularly tough for everyone. As there is a strong connection between nature and wellbeing, we are delighted to offer free entry for one friend to enjoy a wellbeing walk around the zoo during the members-only week, in recognition of Stress Awareness Month.”
Mrs Roberts (pictured) became CEO at the start of this month and will take forward the organisation’s vision of “a renewed focus on education and hopes of becoming the UK’s first neurodiverse zoo”.
The ZSEA, which runs both Banham Zoo and Africa Alive in Kessingland, has endured a torrid year financially and the zoos had to be restructured to save on costs, with the monetary pressures of feeding and caring for the animals mounting.
The charity is now looking ahead to the day of reopening, having been supported by a Zoo Animals Fund grant of £752,000 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to cover the cost of animal care and to vital repairs.
The fundraising efforts of the public has also had an impact in seeing the zoos through the last year, raising £60,531.
With visitors returning, Covid safety protocols will be stringently adhered to at each zoo, and will include online advanced bookings only, sanitising stations and protective screens across the sites and, until further notice, the enforced closure of indoor displays.
One-way systems will also be in place and shops will have different entrances and exits, safe distance signs and floor markings to help with social distancing.
Outside eating only and cashless payments at restaurants and pop-up food outlets will also be in place.
Guests must ensure that they visit either with a maximum of six people in total or with one other household.
The ZSEA has also announced that after a career spanning over 28 years at Africa Alive and Banham Zoo, Gary Batters will be stepping down from his role as joint managing director to pursue other challenges.
He had built a reputation for an unwavering dedication to conservation and education work, especially with The Lemur Association, where he has been its president since 1993.
Gerard Smith, chairman of the trustees, said: “I’m sure that all our staff, volunteers, visitors and animals will join me in thanking Gary for helping to steer us through a very challenging year and we all wish him the best of luck for the future.”