Dartmoor Zoo announces reopening date

Authored by Mary
Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 20:45

Dartmoor Zoo will open its gates to the general public on Wednesday 8th July for the first time since its closure three months ago.

As a small way of saying thank you, Dartmoor Zoo will be offering NHS frontline workers plus one other, free entry on Sunday 5th July, the first of a number of thank you days that will be hosted at the zoo this year. Members of the zoo will then also be able to visit ahead of the official opening date on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th to thank them for the fantastic support shown throughout lockdown.

Working within the latest government guidelines, Dartmoor Zoo has implemented a series of safety measures to enable them to re-open and raise vital funds, whilst keeping visitors safe. Social distancing rules are applied throughout the zoo – visitors must maintain two metres distance at all times. A one-way system has been planned throughout the zoo to make this easier, additional handwashing facilities and sanitiser stations have been placed across the zoo and tickets must be purchased online prior to visiting.

Dartmoor Zoo’s popular keeper talks are now available virtually via a QR code outside each animal’s enclosure. Visitors will be able to use the restaurant as a takeaway service, with outside seating areas being arranged to meet social distance guidelines. The zoo will also allow a maximum of 200 people on site and will stagger arrival times.

Coral Jonas, Deputy CEO at Dartmoor Zoo, said: "We are really looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Dartmoor Zoo. We know that people have missed us, and we’ve certainly missed them! We’ve carefully considered how to make the zoo a safe place to visit and have made some changes around the park to allow for social distancing. We will continue to do everything we can to make visits with us as relaxing and as special as they have always been.

“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity from the public with our emergency fundraising scheme. As a zoo, we need a minimum of £11,500 a week for maintenance and to keep all our animals fed and healthy, so the sum of £53,249 and counting is amazing. As a charity we will continue to rely on this support, especially when our visitor numbers will be so limited on-site.”

During lockdown, Dartmoor Zoo has taken innovative steps to allow visitors to stay in touch and see their beloved animals, including a ‘#bringdartmoorzootoyou’ social media campaign, with keeper talks and footage from the enclosures. The zoo also set up an Amazon Wishlist, allowing people to buy items for the animals which they then shared footage of the animals enjoying on the zoo’s social media channels.

After facing uncertainty during the Covid-19 pandemic, Dartmoor Zoo has lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in critical funds and depends on income from fundraising events and admissions from visitors, all of which were ceased due to lockdown. Despite being allowed to open, the zoo is only able to welcome a quarter of the visitors they would usually see through their doors due to the restrictions in place. To provide the best possible care to the animals, Dartmoor Zoo must still fundraise £11,500 a week and continues to rely on the generosity of the public.

Dartmoor Zoo was established in 2007 when Benjamin Mee and his family bought an ailing zoo. Since then, Ben, his family and team have built the zoo into the popular tourist attraction it is today. Ben wrote a book about his experience and in 2011 it was made into the Hollywood Film ‘We Bought a Zoo’ starring Matt Damon. In 2014 Ben Mee kindly donated the zoo to the Dartmoor Zoological Society charity. Today the zoo is heavily involved in research, conservation and education projects to promote the welfare of animals and to enrich both the lives of humans and animals.

Tickets for the NHS frontline workers will be available online next week. Further information about this event will be released on Dartmoor Zoo’s social media pages and website.

If you are a member wishing to visit on Monday 6th or Tuesday 7th July, please call 01752 837645 to book your tickets and time of arrival.

To purchase general admission tickets for Wednesday 8th July onwards, please visit https://bit.ly/DZSTickets