Colchester Zoo has released more tickets after families flocked to the attraction as it reopened to the public.
Linda English, 69, said she was “thrilled to bits” to visit the Essex attraction as an early birthday present for her five-year-old granddaughter Darcie Halls, who turns six later this month.
“I think people are glad to be out in the sunshine, glad to go somewhere different. As long as you’re sensible and wear your masks where you’re supposed to that’s the main thing.”
In a Tweet this afternoon, Colchester Zoo put the following: “Following the unbelievable demand for tickets to visit us over the next 7 days, we have now released some additional slots for visits between the 13th – 19th April and information on future dates!
“On Wednesday 14th April at 9am we will be releasing tickets for ALL visit dates between the 20th April – 16th May 2021. We expect extremely high traffic to our website once again, please be patient and be kind when waiting to book.”
One of today’s visitors who had been lucky enough to get tickets, Caroline Hale, 40, of Colchester, said it was “brilliant” to be back at the zoo with her three-year-old daughter Eowyn.
“We’ve been very excited about it,” she said.
“We came just before Christmas and then it’s just been checking the website waiting for it to reopen.”
Dr Dominique Tropeano, the zoo’s managing director, said it was a “great relief as well as a pleasure to welcome people again”.
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He said the zoo “completely drained all our reserves” to survive and is now saving all the money it can in case of any further lockdowns.
“We made it up to now, only just, but now we need to save money so that if something did happen we can survive,” he said.
He went on: “We completely drained all our reserves but at the end of the day we’re still here, we’re still alive, still kicking and hopefully the future will prove that we will be strong enough to recover to move forward again.”
He said the zoo is limiting visitor numbers and estimated they will have around 30% to 40% fewer visitors than usual for the time of year.
“We’re not going to spend too much money outside of feeding the animals, outside of wages,” he said, adding that they would not embark on major projects for now “but at least we carry on, remain open”.