Edinburgh Zoo animals could be sold as MP calls for urgent help as staff redundancies start

Edinburgh Zoo has started staff redundancies and could be forced to sell animals if it doesn’t get government funding support, an MP has warned.

By Jolene Campbell
Monday, 30th November 2020, 6:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 10:55 am

Christine Jardine MP has warned vital conservation work is under threat and is calling on both UK and Scottish Governments to provide funding after the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) confirmed it had started redundancy process.

Last month David Field, Chief Executive of the RZSS told the Evening News that Edinburgh zoo faced tough choices and might need to get rid of animals including some monkeys and birds after suffering heavy financial losses due to the pandemic.

Mr Field revealed that despite clawing back some money through increased memberships since the zoo reopened in the summer, the charity has lost £2.5m this year. Despite taking out a £5 million business loan to tide them over Mr Field said they would have to “rationalise” if finances didn’t improve by selling animals, reducing education programmes and potentially suspending a scheme to introduce the Scottish Wildcat at the Highland Wildlife Park.

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David Field, Chief Executive RZSS

Ms Jardine, the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, is now calling on both UK and Scottish Governments to step in and provide emergency cash help.

She said: “I am at a loss to understand why our Governments are not doing more to protect jobs at the RZSS and the vital work it does to conserve species like the Scottish Wild Cat.

“The eligibility criteria for both government’s zoo grants effectively prevents viable support being offered to the RZSS as you need to show your organisation has less than 12 weeks of operating costs left. There needs to be focused supports available far earlier to provide long term protection for Scotland’s conservation projects.

“I am in regular contact with the RZSS who’ve confirmed that the redundancy process has begun so I would urge both governments to think carefully and extend emergency funding to tide the charity through the coming months.”

“The educational, physical and mental health benefits of being outside, and taking in nature, are central to our personal health, so we have to be make sure that future generations have the same opportunities to enjoy the natural world.”

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