A COLWYN Bay zoo has voiced its frustration stressing 'they do have the ability to re-open' after it was revealed outdoor attractions will open in England from June 15.

Despite being 'thrilled' for England's zoos and safari parks, the Welsh Mountain Zoo said they still find themselves unable to re-open.

Wales is a devolved nation with restrictions set in place by First Minister Mark Drakeford. Under the measures, people in Wales can only travel within five miles of their home.

The struggling zoo, among other businesses, remain closed.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Mountain Zoo said: "For now, we may have to wait for the first minister’s next review of lockdown measures.

"We ask that you [supporters] continue to share our message far and wide.

"We do have the ability to reopen with appropriate social distancing measures, but we need the Welsh Government to ease their restrictions in order to allow us to do this."

The next lockdown announcement in Wales is expected on June 19.

The zoo said they have suffered 'extreme financial damage' since closing on March 22 and admitted the road to recovery will be 'long and uncertain'.

The attraction has received £85,000 from the Welsh Government's Economic Resilience Fund.

They have also secured a loan of £250,000.

Generous supporters have raised more than £185,000 for the zoo.

The spokesperson added: "Whilst we are extremely grateful for the funds received, the £250,000 is a loan that will have to be repaid with interest.

"Our current reduced running costs are approximately £120,000 a month. Our financial forecasting for the months of April to June this year also predicted income of £581,000. That was based on an assumption of ‘average weather’ and with the fine weather we have had so far this year we can confidently say we would easily have exceeded this income if the crisis had not hit.

"We now await further news from the First Minister next week as to whether the five-mile travelling restrictions will remain in place.

"We can only hope that these restrictions are eased and we can draw visitors from a wider catchment area in order to make it financially viable to reopen the zoo."

Rhyl Journal:

David Jones, MP for Clwyd West

David Jones, MP for Clwyd West, told the Pioneer: "I don't see why we have to do it differently in Wales. I have so many people, so many businesses, that are worried sick.

"People need reassurance or a proposal for opening the economy. Everybody understands that public health has got to come first but a proposal has got to come. Balancing public safety so the economy doesn't take a hit.

"The big concern at the start was that it costs well over £30,000 a week to run the zoo and they was no income at all coming in. There was difficulty in getting any sort of grant out of the Welsh Government - a lot of hard work. Even then, it wouldn't have been as much as it would have been if the zoo was in England.

"The concern was - and remains frankly - if you can’t open it up for business again then it will close for good. Then you have got this awful animal welfare issue as,of course, no zoos are taking on new animals as they are having difficult surviving.

"So what would have happened is that the animals would have been put down and that would have been absolutely heart-breaking."

The decision to open zoos in England from Monday means that Chester Zoo, which voiced great concerns about its survival fight, can now open.

Rhyl Journal:

The zoo is lucky enough to house two Sumatran Tigers

Mr Jones added: "Chester Zoo is an important part of the local offering as it is not that far away - now that it is reopening, thank goodness. It is probably the most important zoo in the country with really important breeding programmes. If that had closed, it would have been catastrophic.

"We are now in a position of awaiting an announcement from the Welsh Government that they will allow zoos in Wales to open and that sense prevails.

"In Colwyn Bay, they have got important breeding programmes, particularly with the snow leopards - they have got a new enclosure going up.

"I am just very concerned that we get that announcement quickly.

"It is an outdoor attraction. There is no problem with social distancing. There is bags of space up there.

"It is quite easy to keep people away from one another.

Rhyl Journal:

A sea lion at the zoo. Picture: Matt Rimmer

"It is on the top of a hill for goodness sake so it could not be more breezy

"I think it would be really important to get it open but that, of course, would have to be accompanied by the relaxation on travel because of the five miles radius that you can travel in."

Mr Jones said Mr Drakeford’s statement over the weekend that ‘Wales will remain largely shut to tourists over the summer’ has caused a great deal of discontent in North Wales.

He said: "Over 43,000 local jobs depend upon tourism.

“Whilst everyone can understand that Governments have to put public health first, the general impression in North Wales is that the Welsh Government are not even exploring ways to reopen the economy safely."

At the coronavirus press conference, held by the Welsh Government on June 10, minister for economy, Ken Skates, spoke in detail about the decision made by UK Government following a week of reports surrounding the future of zoos.

He said: "It was only last week that Chester Zoo was informed that it would have to be closed for the foreseeable future. That is what sparked such an outcry from supporters of Chester Zoo - and I was following it, I am a member of Chester Zoo.

Rhyl Journal:

Minister for economy, Ken Skates

“That is what appears to have forced a U-turn this week on that decision to say to zoos that they would be closed for the foreseeable future.

“It would be more helpful to say to zoos that opening of their attractions is entirely dependent on infection levels and that they will be reopened as soon as possible in a safe way - but in a way that does not run the risk of increasing the R level and the number of infections.

“Here in Wales, we never legislated to keep zoos closed. The key challenge for zoos in Wales is not in terms of any legislation – it doesn’t exist and doesn’t stop them from reopening here. The big challenge for zoos here is actually in attracting people through the gates.

“You only get one shot at reopening an attraction," he added.

"You have to do it in a way that draws in sufficient numbers who have paid the ticket prices to make sure you are viable because if you are not financially viable when you reopen it will be very difficult to then hibernate again and it would be nay on impossible to put your workforce into a Government-backed furlough scheme.

“That is why it is vitally important when we say to any type of businesses that we wish to reopen on a certain date that you can back that up and that will be seen through.”