We recognise that zoos and other animal welfare organisations are undertaking very valuable work at this time to ensure that the health and welfare needs of the diverse range of animals they care for are well met.
The Government has provided a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support businesses, including zoos and other animal welfare organisations, through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. They are eligible to apply for a range of support schemes including the Job Retention Scheme, VAT deferral, Business Rates Relief, the Business Interruption Loan schemes, the option to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay and grant funding of up to £25,000.
In addition, specifically for zoos in severe financial distress, the Government has introduced a Zoos Support Fund for licensed zoos in England. Similar support will be provided by the Devolved Administrations. Where a zoo in England is in severe financial distress and has fully explored and exhausted all other reasonable avenues to generate income and reduce costs, then they can apply for this fund. Defra has already written to all licensed zoos in England to make them aware of the COVID-19 support schemes available as well as the new Zoo Support Fund. More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-zoos-and-aquariums
We are in discussion with the animal welfare sector about the issue of support for the organisations working with companion animals and to understand the severe impacts on the sector and their needs.
Defra officials have also been engaging with some of the largest zoos to discuss additional concerns which are arising including over a longer time frame, and active consideration of these is ongoing.
Government guidance states that individuals who are furloughed can volunteer for any organisation that is not their employer.