On Thursday 26 November, Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, asked the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to change the criteria of the Zoo Animal Fund so zoos can access financial support before they are on the verge of closure.
Sir David asked what steps the Department is taking to support zoos during the covid-19 outbreak.
Victoria Prentis said “In addition to the full range of financial support available to all businesses and employers, we have established an extra £100 million support fund for those who are facing severe financial difficulty, and the deadline for applications to the fund has been extended to the end of January”.
Sir David added “On a recent visit to Chester zoo, I saw its excellent conservation work and learned at first hand about the remarkable way it is coping with the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Zoo Animal Fund criteria for access seem to be very peculiar, because zoos seem to have to be on the verge of closure before they can get any money. Surely that is wrong. Will my hon. Friend look at those criteria again, please?”
Victoria Prentis replied “We listened to concerns following the roll-out of the initial support scheme and we have made changes to reflect that. The Zoo Animal Fund, which is simpler to apply for, is now open to zoos that have up to 12 weeks of reserves left. It can be applied for in advance of that and can include applications for essential planned maintenance”.