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Zoos: Covid-19

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Lee Anderson Lee Anderson Conservative, Ashfield

What steps he is taking to support zoos during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government have introduced a £14 million zoos fund for licensed zoos in England. Outdoor areas of zoos and safari parks have already been allowed to reopen, subject to appropriate social distancing measures being in place. The indoor areas of zoos and aquariums will be permitted to open from 4 July. An announcement on further support for the zoos is expected imminently.

Photo of Lee Anderson Lee Anderson Conservative, Ashfield

Unfortunately, the best chances of survival for some animals is in captivity. For centuries, we have taken away the natural home of animals and we should all accept responsibility for that. Keeping zoos and wildlife parks open is something that I wholeheartedly support, and I am grateful that financial support has been made available. We owe it to these animals to ensure that they survive and continue to be a part of this planet, so can my hon. Friend please assure me that Government will do all they can to ensure that not one animal in our zoos and parks is put to sleep due to financial constraints caused by this pandemic?

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We are a nation of animal lovers. I know that you, Mr Speaker, are a very big animal lover, as am I and as is my hon. Friend Lee Anderson. The objective of the zoo support fund, which, by the way, is open until 19 July, is to address avoidable animal suffering in zoos, including, in the worst cases, preventing unplanned euthanasia. My Department continues to engage weekly with zoos to keep on top of what is happening.