A ZOO has thanked supporters after raising more than £163,000 following an urgent fundraising plea.

Earlier in May, the Welsh Mountain Zoo told the Pioneer that it faces 'an uncertain future' if it can't keep vital funds coming in.

Readers rallied behind the attraction, which recently welcomed new baby animals including a new baby girl chimp - the first born at the zoo in 18 years - which was named Vicky after a competition.

Nick Jackson, chief executive officer of the Welsh Mountain Zoo, said: “We have been delighted and overwhelmed by the support and well wishes we’ve received from friends of the Zoo, regionally, nationally and internationally - £163,000 is a fantastic sum, and will go a long way to help us get through this very difficult period.

“The majority of our revenue is generated via visitors and with that gone altogether, the financial impact of the closure has been incredibly hard hitting.

"It is costing the zoo £118,000 per month to run.

"The money raised by our supporters will bridge some of this funding gap.

“We are awaiting further instruction and direction from Welsh Government, however, there are no suggested dates in place when we can begin to consider reopening on any scale.

"With this in mind, continued support and donations remains vital for us in order to continue to deliver care and provide a home for our many wonderful residents.

“As well as donating through our fundraising page, our friends really are coming up with great initiatives to support us. From composing a song, dressing as Tina Turner and special raffles to sponsored bike rides and walks, birthday fundraisers and collections in groups and shops. This is not going unnoticed and this is giving the charity great heart to carry on our important work of conservation, education and recreation.

“We’d like to sincerely thank all those that have supported us to date, and ask that people continue to do so in the coming weeks as we endeavour to make our way through this very difficult period."

The Welsh Mountain zoo opened in Colwyn Bay in 1963.

Running costs at this time include salaries of keepers - all who remain working so the zoo can maintain its high standards of animal husbandry, welfare and security - as well as food, animal house heating, veterinary care and a small admin team.

The cost of animal food alone is £11,800 per month.

The zoo spoke of their disappointment after the Welsh Government 'rejected' calls to establish an animal welfare fund. The UK has set up an animal welfare fund for zoos and aquariums to apply for in England.

A spokesperson for the zoo said: "Like our friends at Anglesey Sea Zoo and Rhyl Sea Aquarium, we provide such an important resource in terms of conservation, education and recreation and we hope that Government Ministers will reconsider their decision before it’s too late. ”

After writing to Ken Skates, minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Janet Finch-Saunders, MS for Aberconwy, received the reply: “A specific zoo fund is not necessary in Wales due to the existence of the Economic Resilience Fund, which is unique to Wales.”

In response, Ms Finch-Saunders said: "The Welsh Government are placing Welsh zoos in the lion’s mouth by refusing to launch a Welsh Zoo Support Fund.

"It is a great shame that, in writing out to all thirty Welsh zoos, the Welsh Government did not think it wise to ascertain the ongoing or financial viability of the organisations. Should this have factored into their questionnaire, perhaps the minister would have come to understand the true state of affairs.

"Enforced closures as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic has placed tremendous strain on these organisations, who have been unable to furlough workers due to ongoing animal welfare obligations. Their circumstance requires a specialist and sustained response that current schemes do not offer.

"The Welsh Government are at pains to point out that animal welfare remains a priority for their administration. Surely, it is about time that they backed up these warm words with tangible actions, such as replicating the UK Government's Covid-19 zoo support fund."

The Welsh Mountain Zoo plans to continue with it fundraising in the hope it can reach its target of £500,000 - the revenue lost by being closed in April and May.

Donate at www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/welshmountainzoo