A SOUTH Gloucestershire wildlife park has re-opened after 13 weeks, despite the owners admitting the ‘cash has run out’.

Wild Place Project, near Easter Compton, is owned by charity Bristol Zoological Society who also run Bristol Zoo.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has announced a support fund but this is capped at £100,000 per zoo.

As a result, the park’s owners believe it will ‘not have any significant positive impact for larger charitable zoos’.

Dr Justin Morris, the chief executive of Bristol Zoological Society, said: “No responsible charitable zoo can allow itself to be in a position of only having a few weeks of funding available and significant reductions in expenditure through redundancies and reducing the size of the collection will have had to have taken place long before this.

“While this is a step in the right direction and will be of huge relief to many smaller zoos, we urgently call on the Government to work with us on revisiting the criteria for this fund to help save our nation’s larger charitable zoos.”

Last year Wild Place Project welcomed more than 317,000 visitors to its 130-acre site.

The park has won plaudits for its new Bear Wood exhibition which gives visitors the chance to see European brown bears, wolves, lynx and wolverine where they would have once lived in the wild.

Bristol Zoological Society has previously warned it may not fully recover from the effects of having to close its two sites due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Morris added: “Like any responsible charity we had financial reserves in place and have made the most of the Government measures to offset costs.

“We are only welcoming a fraction of our usual visitor numbers and the financial situation is still hugely challenging.

“We have animals to care for and the costs associated with that. We cannot furlough all our staff and must also ensure our sites are secure and maintained.

“The reality is the cash has now run out and this continues to be an incredibly challenging time for us.

In March Bristol Zoological Society launched an appeal to ensure the future of its work ‘saving wildlife together’.

To find out more, or to make a donation, visit bristolzoo.org.uk/bzsappeal.

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