Save Shepreth Wildlife Park! Visitor attraction’s future at risk due to coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 13:17 05 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:32 05 June 2020

Shepreth Wildlife Park is at risk of permanent closure having suffered huge financial losses due to coronavirus. Picture: Archant

Shepreth Wildlife Park is at risk of permanent closure having suffered huge financial losses due to coronavirus. Picture: Archant

Archant

Shepreth Wildlife Park is at risk of permanent closure, having suffered losses of more than £400,000 during the coronavirus crisis – and it’s still not clear when they will be allowed to reopen.

Shepreth Wildlife Park's paths being prepared for its potential reopening. Picture: Rebecca  WillersShepreth Wildlife Park's paths being prepared for its potential reopening. Picture: Rebecca Willers

Staff at the much-loved park had been gearing up for a June reopening, but the site faced a second nail in its coffin when the government announced that all zoos and aquariums are to remain closed.

The park has taken out large loans in order to survive while its income now entirely relies on the goodwill of its supporters. Staff went to extreme lengths to prepare for a June reopening – including spraying a two-metre spaced paw print around a one-way guided outdoor route – but SWP’s future is still in limbo until the government decides otherwise.

Orwell firm John Cobb & Sons came to the rescue and re-surfaced areas of the tarmac paths for free, thanks to a 20-year long-standing relationship the two family businesses have nurtured.

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The week before the wildlife park closed, John Cobb was brought in to tarmac the entire entrance driveway to the wildlife park. This dirt track had long been a problem for visitors’ cars, but as the drive was not owned by the park it was a difficult situation to rectify. The park finally raised the funds to fix this driveway for good, and then promptly had to close a week later due to the coronavirus outbreak worsening.

The park has received generous donations from companies across the region, including Barkers Butchers in Great Shelford and Hilary’s Wholesale to match funding from Brewin Dolphin in Cambridge.

Support from its membership and visitors has also been overwhelming and what has kept the animals fed while the conservation centre is unable to meet bills usually met by the admission income generated.

“We are very grateful to all the local companies, residents and supporters for their generous help over these past few months. Particularly to local businesses like John Cobb, which has gone out of its way to help us get back into a position to reopen safely,” says SWP director Rebecca Willers.

The directors have been in contact with both The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums and Anthony Browne MP, who are both fighting to get zoos and aquariums safely reopened before the end of the month.

If you would like to help support the wildlife park, go to https://sheprethwildlifepark.co.uk/product/donation/


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