A cross-party group of local Edinburgh MSPs have today written to the First Minister calling on her to support the safe re-opening of Edinburgh Zoo as part of the phase 2 easing of lockdown restrictions.
Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, Conservative MSP Ruth Davidson, Green MSP Andy Wightman and Labour MSP Daniel Johnson have appealed to the government to protect hundreds of jobs at the zoo and allow it to recommence commercial operations as other visitors attractions, such as Jupiter Art Land, have already done.
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:
"The closure of Edinburgh zoo would devastating for the community and for the hundreds of families of those who lost their jobs.
"Edinburgh Zoo has been a staple in the city since 1913. It's of immeasurable cultural and conservation value.
"The zoo has proved it can open to the public in a safe and cautious fashion. I implore the First Minister to save it from collapse."
Daniel Johnson MSP added:
“As lockdown measures are due to be eased from this week, it is only right that Edinburgh Zoo is allowed to reopen in the safest way possible.
“The Scottish Government has a responsibility not to let Edinburgh Zoo and the network of supply chain jobs that rely on it, go to the wall.”
The text of the joint letter is as follows:
Dear First Minister
Safely re-opening Edinburgh Zoo as part of phase 2 of easing lockdown restrictions
We write to you in our capacity as MSPs serving the city of Edinburgh and in advance of the remarks you will make tomorrow on the further easing of Coronavirus lockdown restrictions, to ask you to allow Edinburgh Zoo to reopen this Weekend.
Each of us have received correspondence both from the Zoo and from a large number of constituents, concerned for its future. Zoo managers signalled last week that if they are not able to open before the proposed date of 15th July, then it may face closure with the loss of 300 jobs in Edinburgh alone. They have already obtained a business interruption loan of £5M, but with a burn rate of £640,000 for every month they have to stay shut, they fear that it may become impossible for them to service this loan and that they may be required to wind down their operations.
We are not aware of any scientific advice that you might be in receipt of to specifically preclude the opening of Zoos and Wildlife parks on this basis and would also point to the safe opening of other visitor attractions like Jupiter Art Land, which are already operating on a commercial basis once again.
We understand that you have taken a precautionary approach to the easing of lockdown and we support any efforts required to control the virus. We simply point out that your government has already eased restrictions on a range of pastimes and attractions with similar measures proposed by the Zoo.
Over 5,000 people have now signed a petition to allow the Zoo to open as soon as possible. The Zoo cannot wait another 4 weeks. We urge you to include its opening in the provisions you announce tomorrow.
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP
Ruth Davidson MSP
Andy Wightman MSP
Daniel Johnson MSP