A french zoo director has described the situation facing the attraction as “a real nightmare”.
Zoos, like most businesses, are suffering huge losses with the sudden closure brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Hundreds of animals still need to be fed and looked after daily, despite the complete loss of all visitors and the income they generate. Many zoos have fixed costs of tens of thousands of Euros a month.
Eric Bairrão Ruivo, conservation director at Beauval Zoo in Saint Aignan — 190km south-west of Paris — said the current situation cannot continue for much longer.
“We have a zoo of 45 hectares, with 35,000 animals," he said. "Since the lockdown, we have put the majority of our workers on furlough or working from home. But we still have 200 people at the zoo taking care of the animals every day.
“It’s a real nightmare; we’ve lost €15 million a month and nearly €50 million in income (since the pandemic began).
"Fortunately, the French government has put in place some measures that can help us, such as loans or the furlough, but this situation cannot continue very much longer because we will not be able to manage it. It affects all of our operations - including the conservation of animals in the field.
“We still hope that zoos will open in France at the beginning of June - and we have managed through the bank loans that we have accepted.
“But we will not be able to make investments in the next two or three years because it will take a long time to recover from these losses."
Bairrão Ruivo said the zoo community would work hard to protect the animals:
“We work in co-operation with the European Association of Zoos and Acquaria who are looking at this and trying to find solutions for zoos that cannot take care of their animals," he added. "So we will have measures put in place along with others from the zoo community."