By Lily Morris
The beloved Essex zoo reopened its gates to visitors on 12 April for the first time since Christmas Eve 2020.
Colchester zoo was finally able to welcome back visitors last month as lockdown restrictions were gradually easing for the first time since the introduction to the third lockdown in January. Zoos, shops, gyms, and pubs could once again open their doors to the public from Monday.
The reopening of the zoo was met with great enthusiasm from Essex residents, with a huge queue of eight thousand flooding the website as soon as ticket bookings opened.
The zoo is now open for outdoor visits, with indoor sections remaining closed for the time being. Despite this, student Harmony Miller, 18, said: “It was pretty much the same except for missing a few things… but everything [else] was just as usual so it was still a fun experience. It was really nice [seeing visitors] because I knew it meant the zoo is getting the money they need after struggling during lockdown.”
The website stated in January: “It’s been no secret that zoos have suffered during the pandemic of COVID-19 since March 2020 and the fight for Colchester Zoo’s survival now continues into 2021… [Restrictions] will continue to affect the zoo’s future due to reduced income.”
Regarding the crowds and social distancing, student Jennifer Shefford, 18, reflected: “There were lots of signs on the floor to guide you. I expected more staff members to be around to make sure people were distancing… [but] it wasn’t too busy.”
The zoo’s website added: “We have been overwhelmed with your support during the zoo’s numerous closures due to COVID-19 and can’t thank you enough. Your help is still critical for the zoo’s survival… through this difficult time.”