Chris Matheson MP has again called on the Government to expand the accessibility of the Zoo Animals Fund.

Like many other zoos and aquariums across the country, Chester Zoo has taken a big financial hit during the pandemic, losing around £11.5 million over the last twelve months.

Although Chester Zoo was able to reopen its doors earlier this month, ongoing coronavirus restrictions have reduced visitor capacity to a far lower level than normal. This is having a further impact on the zoo’s finances as a significant part of their income is generated by visitors.

The Government previously allocated £100 million for their Zoo Animal Fund to help zoos which have been badly impacted by the pandemic. However, since its announcement last year, Chester Zoo has not been able to benefit from the fund. Only 5% of the money has been distributed to zoos and aquariums across the country.

Speaking in the Commons on Thursday morning, Chris called on the Government to expand the accessibility of the Zoo Animals Fund, and ensure more zoos are able to benefit from it.

Chris said: “The problem is that the £100 million announcement was more froth than substance, with only £5 million or £6 million of it being spent and not returned to the Treasury.

“Will Ministers now agree to extend the zoos fund to the important conservation, educational and scientific work that is the bedrock of so much of what our zoos contribute to the global situation?”

Chris has also previously written to Ministers on this issue on a number of occasions, urging them to support Chester Zoo and their world leading educational and conservation work.

Chester Zoo currently delivers 45 conservation projects, spanning more than 20 countries across the globe. In Chester, the zoo supported businesses to overhaul their supply chains and procure products from sustainable palm oil sources, leading to Chester being declared the world’s first sustainable palm oil city in 2019. Each year, they also engage with 150,000 young people living in Cheshire West and Chester and beyond.

Chris also said: “Chester Zoo is not only a vital part of my constituency but also one of the main attractions in the country and one of the leading players of conservation work in the world. The Government need to make the fund more widely accessible to ensure all zoos are properly supported.”

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