BOSSES at Colchester Zoo have written a heartfelt letter of thanks to supporters after the most challenging period in the attraction's history.

The zoo has been closed for more than two months due to lockdown restrictions, but still faced bills of nearly £25,000 a day to care for its animals.

In response to its struggles it launched an operating fund, appealing for support from the public.

Dr Dominique Tropeano has written to the zoo's supporters saying staff have been overwhelmed with the response.

Gazette: Dr Dominique TropeanoDr Dominique Tropeano

He said: "We have all gone through the most difficult and challenging nine weeks of our life.

"It has been an experience we all hope not to have to repeat again, but it has brought out the best in people from the amazing heroics of the NHS staff, to volunteers giving their time and efforts to help people in need.

"The world should be about kindness and we have had a glimpse of this during the pandemic.

"I think the word generosity also comes into it and certainly here at the zoo we have received enormous generosity from hundreds of people from all over the world who have given us the will to survive because of their kindness.

"You have all been simply marvellous and words will always fail us on how to express what we feel.

"We will soon announce the full amount raised and the costs covered by this amount.

"However, everyone has been so generous in different ways, all are important, we can only repeat what has already been said many times, not only are we extremely grateful but this has gone some way to help us survive.

"On a human side it has also been a pick-up tonic, if ever we felt down, wary, depressed or uncertain about the future, you were telling us to go on, telling us to be strong because there will be an end to this horror and importantly there will be a future.

"There have been days when we have looked at our animal collection, from our elephants to the meerkats and felt, “What will happen to them if we run out of money? Will we be able to find a good home for them, will they settle down, will we have to face such a horrific and unreal situation ahead of us?”.

"These were very dark days, the days with sleepless nights because of the worry."

Gazette: Animals - an elephant at Colchester ZooAnimals - an elephant at Colchester Zoo

"The wonderful staff we have here have been simply amazing. They have adapted, they have understood the challenges and they have performed. There is no doubt the Zoo will be eternally grateful to them for their achievement in these dark days.

"In some ways they are heroes just like the NHS staff have been, from the most senior specialist to the man who cleans the corridors, the same applies with our staff and a clap for their performance will be well deserved.

"We are not yet out of the woods in term of finances, there is perhaps a glimmer of hope as rumours of re-opening are suggested. Perhaps it is a matter of weeks rather than months, this would make survival possible.

"We are busy preparing and getting the park ready for this. A massive challenge to ensure we follow the correct procedures and social distancing as best as we can to protect both visitors and staff.

"To you, our loyal visitor, we need to explain that it will be a different experience, not the zoo you have enjoyed in the past, something much more low key, but it will be a start and we know that the animals will be very happy to see you back.

"Time to close my note now as time is precious to make all the necessary preparations to hopefully open our doors to survival.

"We have not yet won the war but we are on top with the battle to survive and whilst the going is extremely tough, we hope to see soon – a light at the end of the tunnel which is called salvation.

"To you all, a big thank you and please keep safe."

To donate or find out more about the zoo's reopening plans, visit