Animal lovers are allowed to see lions, tigers and gorillas at zoos across England again despite Tier 4 lockdown rules.
In an amendment to Covid-19 legislation, people under the strict regulations can visit outdoor areas in zoos with members of their household or with someone from their support bubble.
Businesses were told of the change to regulations, which has not yet been published under the Government’s Tier 4 guidance, on Christmas Eve after being notified by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).
Many zoos in Tier 4 areas have since announced they will be re-opening, including Chessington, ZSL London Zoo, Howletts Wild Animal Park near Kent and Marwell Zoo in Hampshire.
In an amendment, people under the Tier 4 regulations can visit outdoor areas in zoos with members of their household or with someone from their support bubble (file photo)
Businesses were told of the change to regulations, which has not yet been published under the Government’s Tier 4 guidance, on Christmas Eve by the charity BIAZA (file photo)
Marwell Zoo re-opened on Sunday, while Chessington and Howletts welcomed back visitors yesterday and ZSL London Zoo is set to re-open tomorrow.
Howletts wrote on its website: ‘We are delighted to announce that from December 29, 2020, you will be able to visit Howletts Wild Animal Park and our sister park, Port Lympne Reserve, but there are some restrictions in place.’
It then mentioned tickets must be booked online in advance, the number of tickets will be limited and there will be no keeper talks or animal experiences.
Referring to all tiers, the amendment to the Government’s legislation says that people can visit ‘outdoor attractions at an aquarium, zoo or safari park’ from Boxing Day.
It adds that visitors can also go to ‘outdoor animal attractions at a farm, wildlife centre or any other place where animals are exhibited to the public as an attraction’.
Nicky Needham, Acting Joint Director of BIAZA, confirmed to MailOnline that its members were alerted to the amendment on Christmas Eve.
Chessington in Kingston upon Thames, London, re-opened yesterday. It said: ‘We ask everyone to take note of their local restrictions and that of the Zoo before pre-booking a ticket’
The announcement on Chessington’s website, pictured. It also stated: ‘Government guidance states those in Tier 4 can visit some public outdoor places, including zoos’
It follows zoos warning in October that animals faced extinction as a result of the pandemic as they said they were unable to access vital funding to help them survive.
Kathryn England, London Zoo Chief Operating Officer, told the BBC’s Today programme: ‘We’re all about conservation and preventing animals from going extinct so it’s a really horrible place to be where we’re actually worried ourselves about the reality of going extinct.
‘That is a scary place for us to be right now.’
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) told MailOnline: ‘Under Tier 4 restrictions, the outdoor areas of some visitor attractions can remain open, including zoos, provided that strict protocols are followed to ensure that social distancing is adhered to.
‘We continue to work very closely with the zoo and conservation sector, who are working to safeguard the welfare of their animals, and will ensure they get the support they need.’