THE owner of Colchester Zoo has said the popular attraction is at a “dangerous crossroad” in its fight to survive.

The zoo launched an emergency operating fund following the first coronavirus lockdown in March, receiving hundreds of donations before it was finally able to reopen in June.

But the survival of the zoo remains an ongoing battle and it is a battle bosses fear they are losing.

The second national lockdown has had a “catastrophic” impact.

Any savings are being eaten away by the day-to-day running costs, while the majority of the zoo’s overseas conservation support has been suspended.

The zoo employs more than 250 staff and the majority have been furloughed.

A spokesman said: “Although the furlough scheme has been extended, our wage bill can only be reduced to a certain extent as the animals still need caring for and business operations cannot stop completely if we are to have any chance of surviving this nightmare.”


The zoo does not qualify for any Government grants, so support from the public is vital.

Set across 60 acres and caring for more than 10,000 animals, the attraction costs more than £500,000 per month for animal welfare and upkeep.

Dr Dominique Tropeano bought the zoo in 1983.

He said Covid-19 had “brought back the sleepless nights and all the worries of the spring.”

He said: “This is a crossroad and a very dangerous one bringing us into unchartered grounds.

“Our doors here at Colchester Zoo are now closed and locked, so the tills have stopped ringing.

“We have to look at what finances we have been able to save, where we must spend it and certainly be very careful because there is no hope of huge funding coming our way.

“There is never a right time to see any business close down but it is clear this is the worst thing that could happen to a zoo, including Colchester Zoo.

“We know lockdown will be catastrophic for many people and businesses of course, but for zoos animal life routines continue, the care, the supervision, the welfare will be delivered by our hard-working animal care team and will be funded the best we can.”

Dr Tropeano appealed for supporters to be “as helpful as they can.”

“Should we not be able to re-open our doors early December, it will feel like clouds gathering in a dark winter sky and a storm of gigantic proportion will hit us.

"Its force may prove to be too much and may leave complete devastation behind.

“We have always managed the zoo with financial prudence, and we know it is unlikely grants will be available to us or many other zoos, so we will continue to be extremely prudent but will ask you to be as helpful as you can.

"Perhaps renew your zoo pass if you are a passholder, or if you have a booking, instead of asking for a refund reschedule your visit, purchase an adoption or gift voucher for an animal experience, and if you can then please donate to our emergency operating fund online.

“Just before closing down a gentleman and his wife I bumped into at the bottom of the zoo came towards me and after the usual good morning he talked about the zoo but referred to it as ‘our zoo’ meaning his zoo, he then stopped and said ‘yes we know it is your zoo but we call it ours’.

“Since taking over in 1983 this has always been my aim this is a zoo for the people, we aim to get people to feel good being at home as well as at Colchester Zoo.

"Those few words made me very proud and satisfied.”