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Zoos offered aid to avoid ‘unplanned euthanasia’ of animals

By George Ryan, PA Parliamentary Reporter

Funding is available to help struggling zoos ensure they do not have to carry out “unplanned euthanasia” of animals due to financial woes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said the Government’s £14 million zoos fund will help address avoidable animal suffering in zoos.

The attractions reopened to the public in England last week but many still face significant financial difficulties.

Tory MP Lee Anderson (Ashfield) raised concerns that struggling zoos might be forced to “put to sleep” animals to cut costs.

He said: “Unfortunately the best chances of survival for some animals is in captivity.

“For centuries we have taken away the natural home of animals and we should all accept responsibility.

“We owe it to these animals to make sure they survive and continue to be a part of this planet.

“So can my honourable friend (Ms Pow) please assure me that Government will do what it can to ensure that not one animal in our zoos and parks is put to sleep due to financial constraints caused by this pandemic?”

Ms Pow responded: “The objective of the Zoos Support Fund – which by the way is open until July 19 – is to address avoidable animal suffering in zoos, including in the worst-case of preventing unplanned euthanasia.

“My department continues to engage weekly with zoos to keep on top of what is happening.”

Earlier, Ms Pow outlined some of the support available to zoos.

She said: “The Government has introduced a £14 million zoos fund for licensed zoos in England.

“Outdoors areas of zoos and safari parks have already been allowed to reopen subject to social distancing measures being in place, and the indoor areas of zoos and aquariums will be permitted to open from July 4.

“An announcement on further support for the zoos is expected imminently.”