Scotland’s zoos allowed to reopen at end of month

Edinburgh Zoo is among the attractions which will be allowed to reopen on June 29.

Zoos across Scotland can reopen later this month as part of changes to lockdown, the First Minister has said.

In a statement made at Holyrood on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed outdoor businesses such as zoos and garden attractions can reopen from June 29 as part of the plan for phase two of leaving lockdown.

She advised people “should not travel more than around five miles to visit them” and “where these places are ticketed, tickets should be bought in advance”.

The move has been welcomed by a cross-party group of MSPs who have been campaigning to “save” Edinburgh Zoo.

Lib Dem Alex Cole-Hamilton, Tory Ruth Davidson, the Greens’ Andy Wightman and Labour’s Daniel Johnson staged a rally outside the zoo on Thursday ahead of the announcement of further restrictions easing.

The quartet had issued a joint letter on Wednesday appealing to the Scottish Government to allow the zoo to recommence commercial operations to protect jobs.

Mr Cole-Hamilton, who represents Edinburgh Western, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to hear that the zoo is being allowed to reopen.

“Over 5,000 people signed our petition to ask it to reopen safely on the socially distanced basis, really glad that Nicola Sturgeon has listened to that.

“Many outdoor attractions are already open say, for example, Jupiter Artland – and they’re doing that on a safe socially distanced outdoor basis.

“The zoo spent many weeks adapting the facility to open likewise and they are confident that they can do so on a safe basis.”

Ms Davidson, MSP for Edinburgh Central also welcomed the announcement.

She said: “This isn’t a political issue, we just want to see the zoo opened.

“We represent all different parts of the city – all of us have constituents that are affected by this, there’s 300 jobs here at the zoo.

“I was in there the week before it shut with my little boy, he’s only 18 months old and loves looking at the animals.

“I’m so pleased that the Scottish Government has seen sense and allowed Edinburgh Zoo to reopen.”

She added: “It is an outdoor attraction, it is safe, but it is under threat if it can’t get visitors through the doors, then it could go under.”

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) previously asked the Scottish Government to find a safe way to reopen the venue, claiming the charity’s future was at risk.

Similar attractions in England began to open their doors on Monday.

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