Permanent closure of Underwater World at Birdworld
All 1,700 aquatic animals at Birdworld in Farnham have safely been rehomed after the permanent closure of Underwater World at the Surrey-based attraction.
Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, as well as the inability to social distance within the building, Underwater World at Birdworld will not re-open to the public. The decision has been confirmed as social distancing measures are set to continue for at least another six months.
Duncan Bolton, Curator at Birdworld, commented:
“The permanent closure of Underwater World was an extremely sad and difficult decision to make, however, it was necessary to protect the future of Birdworld. Aquariums are expensive facilities to run and given that we haven’t been able to re-open Underwater World in a COVID-Secure way since March, we are unable to continue operating the facility.
“The closure of the attraction will significantly reduce our monthly overheads and will allow us to continue investing in Birdworld. Our priority has always been, and continues to be, delivering the very best possible care to the animals at the park.”
The animals that previously resided at Underwater World have successfully found new homes at various SEA LIFE Centres across the UK, including London, Birmingham and Brighton. St Andrews Aquarium in Scotland and Marwell Zoo in Winchester, Crocodiles of the World in Oxfordshire and Tropiquaria in Somerset have also offered to give the aquatic creatures a new home.
“We are extremely grateful to all eight organisations which are offering our aquatic animals new homes. Like many zoos, Birdworld does not buy and sell animals, these animals are being donated to the other organisations, ensuring that they have gone to the very best, long-term homes possible.”
Zoos across the UK have been hit hard by the pandemic, where income ceased overnight, yet dedication to animal welfare meant costs were sustained.
Commenting on the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, Duncan explained:
“As of yet, no zoo or aquarium has received any support from the £100million rescue package promised by the government in June and given the strict criteria set, only a handful of organisations across the UK qualify to apply for the funding.
“Meanwhile, businesses like ours are continuing to operate with concern for the future, having to make decisions, such as the closure of Underwater World, to save ourselves. Animal welfare remains our top priority and therefore our costs are unwavering.
“We are incredibly thankful for the support of our guests who have visited us since re-opening as well as over 380 people who have made donations through our GoFundMe campaign and hope that action will be taken to protect zoos across the UK throughout the winter season.”
To find out how you can support your local zoo visit https://biaza.org.uk/news/detail/help-needed-for-zoos-facing-worst-winter-in-memory or follow the #YourZooNeedsYou campaign on social media.
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