Four changes to expect at London and Whipsnade Zoos when they reopen, including the list of closed animal houses

LONDON and Whipsnade Zoos have redesigned the parts of the parks to make them safe enough for visitors ahead of plans to reopen from next Monday.

Like all non-essential shops, zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas in England have been given the go-ahead to reopen from June 15.

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The Prime Minister is expected to confirm the plans in this evening's daily coronavirus briefing.

It comes after a desperate appeal to the Government from Boris Johnson's father, Stanley Johnson, to let them welcome back members of the public as they're "vital for conservation".

But like all businesses, zoos will have to make sure they're "Covid-19 secure" before opening to customers again.

Most zoos will be reopening over the coming weeks, including Chester and Colchester.

Which animal houses will remain closed?

THERE are more than 18,000 animals at the zoos.

Indoor animal houses at London and Whipsnade Zoos will remain temporarily closed. These include:

  • The reptile house
  • Butterfly paradise
  • Blackburn pavilion
  • Rainforest life
  • Bugs house
  • Squirrel monkey and lemur walkthroughs

London Zoo in Regent's Park and Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire are both owned by ZLS, and have also made a number of changes to make sure its safe for visitors and staff.

Firstly, around 3,000 signs have been put up around animal parks, from paw prints on the floor to sign posts, that guide customers on a one way system around the site to help them social distance.

Secondly, the number of visitors allowed in the park at any one time will be limited and tickets will need to be booked in advance before being admitted.

The third main change is that food from the cafes and restaurants will still be able to be bought on site but for takeaway only and visitors will have to sit outside to eat.

Customers won't be able to pay with cash either and will be restricted contactless payments only.

The fourth major change is that all indoor areas will remain closed but additional hand washing facilities and sanitiser stations have been put up around the zoos.

Visitors are encouraged to cycle or walk to the parks, or alternatively families will be able to drive to either zoo and park for free.

ZSL Director General, Dominic Jermey said: "We hope the support we’ve seen so far for our zoos translates to visitors coming in to support us further."

The zoo is hoping to open bookings to visitors from Friday but is waiting on further confirmation from the Government first.

It costs £26 per adult and £16.90 for a child to go to London Zoo, while Whipsnade Zoo charges £28 for an adult and £18.19 for children.

It's worth noting though that prices include a voluntary 10 per cent GiftAid donation that supports ZLS's International conservation work.

But Mr Jermey added that zoos are likely to need more financial support in the coming months as the sales-loss has had a dramatic impact on its projects, including scientific research into Covid-19 in wildlife.

As easing lockdown is a matter for devolved Governments, it's not clear when zoos in Scotland, Wales and Norther Ireland are set to reopen.

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