A zoo that has been forced to permanently close due to the coronavirus lockdown has found new homes for all its animals after euthanasia fears.
Wild Planet Trust announced earlier this week that it cannot afford to reopen its Living Coasts site in Torquay, Devon, due to falling visitor numbers and massive costs incurred during the coronavirus pandemic.
Zoo owners feared the animals may have to be put to sleep if suitable homes could not be found.
Wild Planet Trust announced it cannot afford to reopen its Living Coasts site (pictured) in Torquay, Devon due to massive costs incurred during the coronavirus lockdown
Zoo owners revealed it has found new homes for all its animals, after a worldwide network of aquariums and zoos have teamed up to help rehouse the marine species
In the Frequently Asked Questions section of the attraction’s website, they said: ‘In the unlikely event that we cannot find housing that suits their needs, we may need to the make the difficult decision to euthanise.
‘As things stand, we do not anticipate that this is a likely scenario.’
But this morning the zoo revealed a worldwide network of zoos and aquariums have come together to rehouse the animals in their specialist facilities, the Mirror reported.
Simon Tonge, Executive Director of Wild Planet Trust said: ‘I am pleased, but not surprised, that we have found homes for our animals so quickly.
‘The zoo community is very networked and mutually supportive. Thank you to all our members and friends for sharing your concerns and I hope you are reassured that our animals are in the best possible hands.’
The animals cannot be moved straight away as the process of relocating animals to other zoos and aquariums is extremely complex.
Most of the marine species on the site needed specialist facilities, making it more difficult to safely rehouse them.
Most of the marine species on the site needed specialist facilities, making it difficult to safely rehouse the animals. Pictured, a penguin enclosure at the popular visitor attraction
Zoo owners feared they would have to put the animals to sleep if they could not find suitable homes for them but said they were ‘confident’ they would find them ‘good homes’
Dr Kirsten Pullen, Director of Conservation & Education told the Mirror: ‘We needed to ensure that their new home is the right habitat, the right social grouping and has the right experienced staff working with them.
‘There is a range of legislation we need to comply with – for example, the size of animal carrier we move them in, and what ‘permits’, ‘passports’ and health certificates they need to cross country borders.
‘We need to be sure the transport company is experienced and reliable, and they have all the paperwork ready for inspection. At every step, the wellbeing of our animals is key to a successful transport. In the meantime, Living Coasts staff will continue to care for the animals.’
Wild Planet Trust previously said they were ‘confident’ they would find ‘good homes’ for the animals but were are ‘unclear how long this process may take’.
All zoos and other attractions were forced to temporarily close in March at the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown.
But the Devon zoo announced in a statement on their website earlier this week that it will permanently close after nearly 20 years in operation.
All zoos and other attractions were forced to close in March due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Pictured, South American fur seals Grace and Tunata at Living Coasts
The Living Coasts attraction was focused on the conservation and protection of mostly marine animals including penguins, otters and seals for nearly 20 years, since 2003
The statement said: ‘It is with regret that Wild Planet Trust has to announce that it will not be re-opening Living Coasts as a visitor attraction following its closure during the current global coronavirus pandemic.’
The 44 staff at Living Coasts have been placed at risk of redundancy and there are also potential redundancies at their other sites, Paignton Zoo and Newquay Zoo.
A statement on the Living Coasts website said: ‘Wild Planet Trust would like to thank the many people who have visited and supported Living Coasts over the years, and the many businesses, and grant giving trusts which have support our vital conservation work.’
Wild Planet Trust, formerly Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, is a registered education, scientific and conservation charity established in 1957 and based in Devon.
The trust runs two zoo plus two local nature reserves and a National Nature Reserve.
The Living Coasts attraction has been focused on the conservation and protection of mostly marine animals including penguins, otters and seals since 2003.