The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) welcomes the announcement of a $95 million relief package by the Federal Government to support the nation’s zoos, wildlife parks, animal sanctuaries and aquariums in the care and feeding of their animals.
VTIC Chief Executive Felicia Mariani said, “We are pleased and relieved to see this allocation of much needed emergency funding to support this important sector of our tourism industry, that attracts around 20 million visitors nationally per year.
“While many of these attractions have accessed the JobKeeper fund to maintain their staff, there has been no support to date to help them in the expense of caring for these precious animals and maintaining their parks throughout the shutdown.
“Many wildlife parks and zoos here in Victoria and indeed across the country have been agonising over how they will continue to look after these animals with their revenue pummelled as we maintain Level 3 Restrictions. They were facing some very difficult decisions on how to carry on without a lifeline to support the critical care they provide.”
It can cost upwards of $100,000 a year to feed and care for a herd of elephants, one lion can eat as much as $250 a week in red meat and housing a big troop of chimpanzees can require in excess of $500,000 a year.
With the support of the Federal Government, now, more than 100 exhibiting zoos, wildlife parks and aquariums will be eligible to apply for a share of $94.6 million to help pay for costs such as food, veterinary bills and the power and water needed for their animal enclosures.
“A number of wildlife parks, aquariums and sanctuaries that are major attractions across Victoria are expected to be eligible to apply for these funds, and VTIC looks forward to their receiving this much-needed injection of cash to assist their important work,” Ms Mariani said.
VTIC is also urging the Victorian Government to not forget these important attractions as they assess the relaxing of Stage 3 Restrictions in the coming weeks.
“These outdoor private parks and sanctuaries need to be considered alongside the reopening of our national parks and reserves across the state as Government looks at how to ease the shutdown measures.
“Being able to attract visitors back to their parks will be a crucial fillip to this current Federal relief package.
“VTIC is also working closely with the indoor aquarium attractions to develop measures that can hopefully see this sector manage a gradual and responsible reopening of their facilities also in any scaling back of restrictions,” Ms Mariani concluded.