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Sep 8, 2022
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British zoos face closure amid energy crisis

British zoos face closure amid energy crisis

There are fears that some animals will have to be euthanized as the costs of keeping them soar.

While the UK hospitality industry is warning that a fifth of businesses could fail due to skyrocketing energy prices, zoos across the country are facing closure as the cost of running animal enclosures becomes unsustainable.

Last week, Bristol Zoo – one of the oldest in the world, in operation for 186 years – closed its gates for the last time due to financial pressure. Some of his animals will be taken to a wildlife park in England, and many will be sent to zoos around the world.

Chester Zoo in the north west of England, which has over 20,000 animals, has said its annual electricity bill, normally around £1.5m ($1.73m), will rise to £2m this year ( $2.3m) and could jump to £3m ($3.46m) in 2023, according to zoo CEO Jamie Christon.

“I can’t put a wool jumper on a Komodo dragon – I have to keep the temperature at which these animals thrive,” iNews quoted him as saying.

Christon also noted that the cost-of-living crisis has affected visitor numbers, noting that “people still have money in their pockets but are very careful about spending it” and suggesting that “next year they probably won’t have that of money”.

Meanwhile, Philip Miller, owner of Sealife in Southend-on-Sea, told iTv that he may be forced to euthanize some of the animals at his “zoo” because annual electricity costs have tripled from £240,000 ($276,000) up to almost three quarters of a million pounds (863 thousand dollars).

“All these animals need to be kept warm – or cold – or a combination of both, and it’s around the clock … they need to be fed, so it’s a huge maintenance bill. All of them will have to be killed or found another home, but I think that all other zoos will be in the same boat,” the zoo owner said.

Like other businesses and charities in the UK, zoos do not benefit from the UK government’s electricity price cap. Zoo owners and amusement park operators are hoping that the new government led by Liz Truss will solve this problem.

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