Iceland supermarket adopts Chester Zoo’s penguins as venue given green light to reopen next week

In a bid to help the struggling venue, Iceland supermarket announced that it had adopted the zoo’s penguins.

Last week, Chester Zoo declared that it was facing huge debts (as much as £24 million by the end of 2020) as a result of lockdown imposed by coronavirus, and pleaded with the public to help with donations.

Wanting to help, supermarket chain Iceland stepped forward and announced that it had adopted the zoo’s entire rookery of Humboldt penguins, therefore alleviating some of the venue’s financial strain.

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland Foods, said: “We were all saddened to hear of Chester Zoo’s recent struggles; it’s the heart of the local community in Chester and a much loved family favourite – I remember visiting the zoo as a child and my own kids love going there.

“We’re proud to be able to lend them our support both through the adoption of the Humboldt penguins on behalf of our colleagues, and by lobbying in support of zoos being allowed to reopen soon.”

Supermarket chain Iceland announced last week that they had adopted Chester Zoo’s Humboldt penguins to help the struggling venue. (Dušan Smetana, Unsplash)

The frozen food retailer also agreed to lobby the UK government on the zoo’s behalf, to amend legislation to allow zoos to reopen with strict social distancing guidance in place. 

Last night it was announced that the lobby had been successful after the zoo, which houses over 35,000 threatened and critically endangered animals, said that it would be reopening next week.

A statement on their website said: “A week ago we were in despair, not knowing when we would reopen, or if we could even survive much longer… but your voices have been heard!

“We have just received the news that we’ll be able to open safely from 15 June!”

While the zoo has successfully been able to convince the UK government that visitors will adhere to social distancing guidelines, and is thankful for the donations that had given it a “vital lifeline”, it said that the “fight isn’t over”.

It added: “Over the next few days we’ll be letting you know when and how you’ll be able to book a ticket to visit. Please bear with us while we do this. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.”

While Chester Zoo’s JustGiving page has raised over £2.4 million, the zoo said it needs around £1.5m a month to survive.

It is hoped the opening of the venue next week will attract enough visitors to help cover the zoo’s running costs.

If you would like to help support Chester Zoo you can visit their JustGiving page here.

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