CHESTER ZOO is 'unlikely to benefit' from a new £100m Government rescue package announced today (Saturday, June 27) for zoos and aquariums in England.

Zoos and aquariums across the country have been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, with the enforced closures depriving them of vital visitor income.

That was spelled out clearly by Chester Zoo, which gave the stark warning last month it could be forced to close for good if it was forced to keep its gates shut for too much longer.

Although zoos - including Chester Zoo - were allowed to reopen on June 15, with aquariums to follow on July 4, there has been lasting financial damage.

After the Government stepped in with an initial £14m funding package, it has now announced a further £100m rescue fund.

It will run until the end of March 2021 to ensure the necessary long-term support is in place to help with severe financial difficulties.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith said: "We have a world-leading zoo and conservation sector, and I know how hard zoos have been working to safeguard the welfare of their animals in the face of real financial hardship and uncertainty.

"Allowing zoos to reopen has taken off some of the pressure, but the coronavirus pandemic has left them facing long-term financial problems. This funding will therefore be a lifeline for our zoos and aquariums and ensure the quality of animal care continues over the coming months.

"I will continue to work with the zoo and conservation community to ensure they get the support they need."

Establishments covered by the Zoo Licensing Act will be able to bid for a portion of the £100 million that has been made available.

But Chester Zoo has expressed concerns it will not be eligible for a share of the funding.

Responding on Twitter to Conservative MP for Warrington South Andy Carter, who had praised the funding announcement as "Welcome news for ⁦Chester Zoo⁩ to allow them to continue their conservation and environmental protection work", the zoo tweeted: "From the details we've seen, we are unlikely to benefit given the current parameters applied to the fund.

"After significant time spent in lengthy, and what have been seemingly very positive discussions with Government representatives, this is extremely disappointing for us.

"We urgently call on the Government to make changes to the scheme and ensure support reaches large charity zoos.

"With no tailored funding, we will need to continue fundraising whilst opening to limited visitors – calling on the goodwill and amazing actions of the public to save our zoo."

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums added: "We are really pleased to have helped secure £100m for zoos and aquariums in England.

"This could be an essential lifeline for many. However we share the concerns of a number of our members about how the fund will be implemented.

"BIAZA stands ready to put in the work and help Government make changes to ensure the support gets to the places that need them."

Millions of pounds have been raised for the much-loved zoo by members of the public, with money continuing to roll in.

While the zoo has reopened, it is only at 20 per cent of its maximum visitor capacity due to the many social distancing measures implemented for the safety of staff and visitors, meaning ongoing funding is needed.

There are a number of ways people can support Chester Zoo. Visit for details.