With tourism being one of the hardest industries hit by COVID-19, The Federal Government has announced a 94.6 million dollar package to support zoos, wildlife parks, sanctuaries and aquariums.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said it was crucial that zoos and aquariums survived the crisis to help the tourism industry recover once restrictions were lifted.
He announced more than 100 exhibiting zoos, wildlife parks and aquariums could apply for a share of $94.6 million to help pay for costs such as food, veterinary bills and power and water needed for animal enclosures.
“We know our world-class zoos and aquariums are major tourism drawcards for many [of] our major cities and regional centres across Australia, with over 20 million visitors walking through the gates each year,” Senator Birmingham said.
“We also shouldn’t underestimate the huge positive flow-on effects our zoos and aquariums provide to our economy. They bring thousands of visitors into communities who then spend millions of dollars visiting other attractions, sleeping in our hotels and dining in our restaurants.”
Nicola Craddock, Executive Director at the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) said the funds are urgently needed for animal welfare. “The support announced by the Government today shows recognition of the importance of our zoos and aquariums, as businesses that contribute to conservation, community, education and tourism, and that maintaining our Australian standards for animal welfare, even during difficult times, is essential,” she said
“Funds from the support package will go towards the costs associated with caring for exotic and native wildlife,
“In a zoo, a single lion can eat $265 of meat each week, feed and habitat maintenance costs $400 a week per koala, hay for elephants can be up to $2,000 per week and the ice production for penguins costs $90,000 per year,” said Ms Craddock.
“The support will help accredited zoos and wildlife parks to continue their crucial role in conservation, including their work helping native wildlife to recover from a devastating bushfire season,” said Ms Craddock.
“Thanks to today’s announcement, we are more optimistic for zoos and aquariums to weather the storm, continue a high level of care for their animals and be there for our communities out the other side.”
Angela Freeman who is the Group Director of Sales and Marketing for Wildlife Tropical North Queensland, who own and operate Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, Kuranda Koala Gardens and Birdworld says it’s too early to know if this will help their local attractions “We still don’t know the finer details and what the government’s conditions are, she said
“It’s not going to be a miracle cure for us, but it will help with food costs and animal welfare.”