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Open zoos to offer relief from Tier 4 restrictions

Zoos and safari parks across the UK are to open for the new year, even in areas where Tier 4 restrictions are in place.

Changes to the rules on opening mean that venues such as London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo are now able to take visitors again. The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) confirmed the change to its members on Christmas Eve.

The zoos will limit visitor numbers to help maintain social distancing, but the development will help bring in much-needed visitor income, as well as providing an alternative to staying at home for members of the public.

At London Zoo around half the site will be open to the public. The Zoo will be keeping its indoor areas closed as part of its Covid-safe plan, which also includes three one-way walking routes, cashless transactions and the provision of hand sanitiser stations. Most animal experiences and keeper talks have been cancelled.

Despite this, a wide array of animals will still be available to view.

Admission prices have been reduced and tickets are only available by advance booking to avoid queues. However, those buying tickets can arrive at any time on the day they have booked for between 10:00 AM and an hour before closing time.

The rules bring zoos and safari parks in line with the regulations for other outdoor open spaces such as parks and botanical gardens.

Describing 2020 as an “extraordinarily challenging” year for zoos and aquariums after months of closures and restrictions, BIAZA urged the public to take advantage of the opportunity to visit zoos.

Its end of year message stated: “We are so grateful for the unshakable support of our valued visitors and would encourage you to continue to support your local BIAZA member zoo or aquarium, whether that is ‘virtually’ or in person; safely and locally.”

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