I thank my hon. Friend Sir David Amess for arranging this debate this evening. Zoos such as Dudley Zoo are among our foremost animal charities, caring for some of the world’s most endangered animals and undertaking essential conservation and research work to ensure a sustainable future for all species. They are reliant on income from visitors, and coronavirus has had a devastating impact on their ability to raise funds, but they are still incurring the high costs of high-quality animal welfare.
Dudley zoo has only just qualified for a quarter of a million pounds of the much welcomed £100 million zoo animals fund. To be eligible for this emergency funding, it must see its finances diminish dangerously low to just three months of reserves, which is impractical to ensure the welfare of animals in its care. It would not be right for zoos to have to euthanise animals in their care simply because they can no longer afford to care for them. Although I am deeply grateful for the support scheme, my plea to Ministers on behalf of Dudley zoo and zoos across the United Kingdom is to revisit the support package, eligibility criteria and deadline to save our zoos.