The Scottish Seabird Centre has set a fundraising target of £200,000 as it seeks to survive the financial impact of Covid-19.
Susan Davies, the charity’s chief executive, said it may have to permanently close after operating for 20 years unless the funds can be raised.
Naturalists Chris Packham and Simon King are backing the appeal, which is the North Berwick-based centre’s first since it opened in 2000.
The Seabird Centre works on conservation projects such as its hugely successful SOS Puffin project, which has helped the critically endangered Atlantic Puffin population recover in numbers.
It also runs an education programme, engaging with more than 4,000 schoolchildren each year.
Ms Davies said: “We appreciate that these Covid-19 times are unprecedented and extremely unsettling for everyone but we are facing a financial cliff-edge.
“We need public support to help us come through our current closure, the period that should have been the liveliest and busiest part of our year.
“If we cannot secure the funds to see us through the lockdown period we will have to take the heartbreaking decision to close, losing a 20-year legacy of conservation and education work, and a valuable learning and tourism offer for East Lothian and further afield.”
Speaking in support of the charity’s appeal, Mr Packham said: “During spring and summer, our seabirds provide the greatest bird spectacles in the UK.
“The jewel in the crown is the remarkable Bass Rock, a towering guano-splattered Gannet colony – the smell, the noise and the sight of all these swirling birds is simply awe-inspiring.
“The Scottish Seabird Centre situated close by on the mainland has live feeds to this and other colonies and is a fantastic educational facility and visitor attraction.”
Conservationist Simon King said: “The Scottish Seabird Centre plays a vital role in bringing us closer to the magnificent natural heritage of our seas by providing state of the art interpretation and educational facilities to many thousands of people.
“It is a bridge between the wild spirits of the ocean and the enquiring minds who want to discover it.
“In addition, it does tremendous work in the field of conservation and protection of this most precious natural asset.”