MARWELL is demanding more details after the government announced a £100m bail-out which aims to ensure zoos survive the coronavirus outbreak.

Government ministers say the extra funding, which follows the £14m allocated in May, will help zoos meet the cost of feeding their animals.

They say it will also offset the impact of lower visitor numbers arising from the need to observe strict social distancing rules.

The bail-out has been announced by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Hampshire Chronicle:

Marwell, which reopens on Monday, is heavily in debt after 12 weeks in lockdown and says it faces a long road to recovery.

The chief executive, James Cretney, said: "While we welcome all financial support for zoos we were disappointed that the previous zoo fund announced by the government wasn’t relevant for Marwell.

"We urgently call upon Defra to clarify details of the expanded scheme.

"Marwell Zoo, which is home to more than 140 species, is owned by Marwell Wildlife, a global conservation charity leading programmes in the UK, Africa and across the world.

"We would ordinarily engage with more than 50,000 schoolchildren through curriculum based education programmes and welcome more than 500,000 visitors each year to our 140-acre site.

"The charity relies on income from the zoo and fundraising efforts of our loyal supporters to secure the future of wildlife for generations to come.

"We will reopen our gates Monday for the first time in three months with a host of safety measures in place to protect our guests, staff and animals.

"These measures mean we will be significantly reducing guest numbers, so whilst we are delighted to be finally welcoming guests again, we predict our road to financial recovery to be a long one."

Hampshire Chronicle:

The bail-out was announced by Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith.

He said: "We have a world-leading zoo and conservation sector, and I know how hard zoos have been working to safeguard the welfare of their animals in the face of real financial hardship and uncertainty.

“Allowing zoos to reopen has taken off some of the pressure, but the coronavirus pandemic has left them facing long-term financial problems.

"This funding will therefore be a lifeline for our zoos and aquariums and ensure the quality of animal care continues over the coming months."

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay added: “Whilst zoos and aquariums are now able to reopen their doors, we know how difficult the past few months have been.

"That’s why we’ve been doing everything we can to support them.

“This extra £100m of funding will ensure those affected by the outbreak can continue to care for their animals as well as the important conservation and educational work.”