British zoos face closure amid energy crisis
As Britain’s hospitality industry warns that a fifth of businesses could go under due to skyrocketing energy prices, zoos across the country are facing closure due to the cost of maintaining animal enclosures becomes unsustainable.
Last week Bristol zoo – one of the oldest in the world with 186 years of operations – shut its gates for the last time due to financial pressure.
While some of its animals will be moved to a wildlife conservation park in England many will be sent to zoos around the world.
Chester Zoo in northwest England, which is home to over 20,000 animals, has reported that its annual energy bill, that’s usually around £1.5 million ($1.73m), is expected to rise to £2 million ($2.3m) this year and could jump to as much as £3 million ($3.46m) in 2023, according to the zoo’s CEO Jamie Christon.
“I can’t put a wooly jumper on a Komodo dragon – I have to maintain the temperatures these animals thrive in,” he was quoted as saying by iNews.
Christon also noted that the cost of living crisis has had an impact on visitor numbers, noting that “people have money still in their pockets, but are being very careful with how they’re spending it,” and suggesting that “next year, they probably won’t have that money.”
Meanwhile, Philip Miller, the owner of Sealife in Southend-on-Sea, told iTv that he may be forced to euthanize some of the animals in his “zooquarium” because the annual cost of electricity has tripled from £240,000 ($276k) to nearly three quarters of a million pounds ($863k).
“All these animals have to keep warm – or cold – or a combination of both, and it's on 24/7 … and they have to be fed, so it's a massive bill to maintain. They'll all have to be euthanized or we find other homes but all the other zoos are going to be in the same boat, I’d imagine,” the zoo owner said.
Like other businesses and charities in the UK, zoos do not benefit from the energy price cap put in place by the British government. Zoo owners and amusement park operators are now hoping that the new government headed by Liz Truss will address the issue.
“Give us some reassurance, and reassure the public that’s not all doom and gloom, that light at the end of the tunnel is not going to be switched off,” the owner of the Happidrome Amusement Arcade in Southend-on-Sea said, as he had already been forced to close his doors for the winter.