Zoos, Aquariums and Wildlife Sanctuaries: Reopening

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:52 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) 3:52 pm, 11th June 2020

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I visited Chester zoo many times as a child, as I am sure he and other hon. Members did. That link with the natural world ties in with our responsibilities as a human race not to destroy the planet, but to leave it in a better condition than we found it in. That can be done in practical ways, as I have talked about with palm oil and as the hon. Member for Romford has also mentioned. Talking to our youngsters and giving them an appreciation of the wider world is important. Of course, it is about the animals, but it is also about the biodiversity and the habitats in which the animals live.

I want to thank the public for their massive support for Chester Zoo. I had so many hon. Members asking me, “What’s happening with the zoo?” That was because they had received so many emails. In one of numerous conversations that I have had with the zoo management last week, they said, “Chris, we are going to set up an email campaign so that people can email their MPs to tell them that they want to keep the zoo open.” I thanked them very much, but I did not mean it. Hon. Members from right across the House have been touched by this campaign. I will not be begrudging with the Minister at this stage. The hon. Member for Romford was right on that. I am pleased that the decision was reversed. Much more needs to be done, but I am grateful that Ministers did listen finally and took the decision. I thank the public for their support for Chester zoo and their support for the work that Chester zoo has undertaken and will continue to undertake, and I commend the hon. Gentleman for his leadership, which does have an effect in the United Kingdom and right across the globe.