COLCHESTER Zoo bosses have issued a rallying cry for support after having to limit the number of visitors when Essex went into the high covid alert level.

The attraction reopened in June having been closed since lockdown restrictions were introduced on March 23.

It had to run at a reduced capacity and only allows pre-booked entry.

But after Essex went into tier two of the Government’s covid restrictions it has had to further reduce its overall capacity.

The zoo said it had also seen a fall in ticket sales following the announcement.

Throughout the pandemic it has still faced bills of around £25,000 a day, with bosses expressing serious concerns for the future of the facility.

Kind-hearted supporters have helped raise more than £100,000 for the facility’s operating fund.

But the zoo says support is needed now more than ever.

A spokesman said: “We need you to help save our zoo.

“With over 60 acres and 10,000 animals to care for, it costs Colchester Zoo over £500,000 per month for animal welfare and park upkeep.

“We are heavily reliant upon ticket sales but visitor numbers have plummeted since Essex moved to the high level alert.


  • Lemurs at Colchester Zoo. Picture: Tom Smith

“Since March we have done our utmost to cut costs wherever possible, but animal welfare costs simply cannot be sacrificed.

“Our bills are set to increase with the furlough scheme ending and the cold weather setting in requiring additional heating, electric and food supplies for the animals.

“Without your support and visits we will simply not be able to achieve our mission of helping to protect species through education and conservation projects.”

Visitors will be asked to follow the Rule of Six around much of the zoo and are still required to wear a mask inside.


  • Animals - the zoo has more than 10,000 animals to care for Picture: Tom Smith

But bosses are asking any guests from the very high tier of restrictions not to visit the zoo.

Passholders were also updated on when they can visit during October half term.

In a message the zoo said: “We have had to reduce our overall capacity due to the local alert level increasing for visitor and staff safety and to ensure Colchester Zoo remains a Covid-free environment.


  • Red Panda at Colchester Zoo. Picture: David Marsay

“This not only affects passholder capacity but also paying visitors that we continue to be heavily reliant on for the zoo’s future.

“Although we have currently sold out of passholder capacity up until 1pm during half term please be aware that we are constantly monitoring the ticket sales and capacity for each day.

“Therefore, if paying ticket capacity remains unsold, we will transfer the availability to our passholders to book.”

Passholders are able to visit the zoo every day after 1pm without needing to book.

The zoo will be operating a one-out one-in policy and visitors have been advised they may have to queue.