The owners of Edinburgh Zoo are calling on the Scottish Government to allow them to open amid a serious financial crisis caused bu the coronavirus pandemic.
While zoos and safari parks in England can reopen from Monday, Edinburgh Zoo a have been told the earliest they can open is 15 July.
The wildlife conservation charity has written to the Scottish Government to suggest practical ways to reopen both parks by the start of July.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) also own the Hihgland Wildlife Park and have calculated a delay in opening could result in them losing £500,000.
RZSS chief executive David Field said, “We welcome the Scottish Government’s efforts to reopen the tourism sector in Scotland because we desperately need our parks to open again.
“While we understand it is vital for lockdown measures to be eased gradually, we had hoped to open by the end of June as part of phase two, with similar safety measures to protect staff and visitors as the zoos and safari parks which will reopen in England over the next few days.
“We also expected to open before places like hotels, pubs and restaurants because our parks are ideal spaces for people and families to enjoy nature in safe outdoor environments.
“Delaying the reopening of Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park for at least five weeks means we will miss the start of the summer and lose £500,000.
“We have had to borrow £5 million overall due to the loss of our visitor income and every day we remain closed increases the risk that we will not be able to continue our wildlife conservation work. This includes saving the wildcat in Scotland, breeding polar bears at Highland Wildlife Park, bringing giraffes to Edinburgh Zoo and protecting chimpanzees from poaching in Uganda.”
An online crowdfunder has been launched and has already raised more that £13,000.