The three South West zoos run by regional conservation charity Wild Planet Trust have a defiant message for coronavirus: “It’s business as usual”.
Staff and volunteers are prepared for the impact of coronavirus, but at this time the charity zoos remain open. Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “We’re monitoring the situation closely and will naturally continue to follow the advice of Public Health England and the Government. We will close if directed or if we no longer have the people to operate safely, but right now WE ARE OPEN!
“Our three zoos, Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall - are mainly open-air sites where you can walk among nature. As spring blossoms and the sun shines, people will want to be out and about. They also want something positive to cling to. They want to keep hearing good news stories. If you have doubts, don’t visit – but if you want a break from the worry and the uncertainty and are after fresh air, wildlife and wild places, then come and see us!”
Wild Planet Trust volunteers, some of whom are older or in at-risk groups, are getting reassurance and advice – but often, the boost gained from volunteering and being sociable is huge. Meanwhile, some staff are training to cover other roles within the charity in case people are off sick.
He added: “We intend to treat our guests like adults and allow them to make the decision about whether to use our catering facilities, for example, or not. On busy days we will open external outlets such as kiosks for those who wish to avoid being in an indoor space and within our restaurants we will extend the ‘social distance’ between seats to allow some comfort to those who choose to remain inside. We’ll keep talking to our guests, our staff and our volunteers to inform them and encourage them.”
Coronavirus measures: Talks for guests suspended Cancelling some events and meetings More space between tables in restaurant Use outdoor space for catering when possible No face-painting Information and reassurance for staff and volunteers