£250,00 investment to protect animals and jobs

sophia the sea lion

A £250,000 loan for the Welsh Mountain Zoo will help to safeguard 140 different species of animals and jobs for 39 people as Covid-19 forces the continued closure of the popular tourist attraction.

Having closed on 22 March, the Welsh Mountain Zoo was established in 1963 and is the oldest and most established Zoo in Wales. It is a charity-owned zoo and is recognised as the National Zoo of Wales. It welcomes over 160,000 visitors each year.

Set in 37 acres overlooking Colwyn Bay and the Carneddau mountains, the zoo is home to over 140 species including reptiles, birds, primates and big cats. Some of the animals are classed as endangered and are managed through the European Endangered Species Programme.

The £250,000 loan by the Development Bank of Wales comes from the Covid-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme. It will provide much needed cashflow to help keep the animals fed, watered and warm. It will also support continued running costs and bridge the funding gap in terms of lost revenue of £500,000 between the months of April and May.  

Jennifer Jesse is a Director of the Welsh Mountain Zoo. She said: “There is no doubt that these are challenging times for all of us but this crisis is one of the worst that the National Zoo of Wales has ever faced in its 57-year history.

“Whilst the gates are closed, our dedicated and hard-working team are continuing to provide the best care for our amazing animals, as they always do. The majority of our revenue is generated via visitors and with that gone altogether, the financial impact of the closure has been incredibly hard hitting. It is now costing the Zoo £118,000 per month to run. We are continuing to look for private grants and donations and over £150,000 has so far been donated. The £250,000 loan is a lifeline that means that we can continue to care for our animals in the interim. However, until we are able to open our gates to visitors again, continued support and funding remains vital for us in order to continue to deliver care and provide a home for our many wonderful residents.” 

Chris Hayward is an Investment Executive with the Development Bank of Wales. He said: “Attracting some 160,000 visitors each year, the Welsh Mountain Zoo is a great day out for all the family.

“As a linchpin for tourism in North Wales, the zoo attracts local, national and international visitors. It undoubtedly cultivates and nurtures the broader attraction of North Wales and sits at the heart of the tourism industry alongside other major attractions. Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the zoo, particularly as their keepers are needed to keep working to take care of the animals. We are delighted to be doing our bit to help safeguard the future of this national treasure.”

The £100 million Covid-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme was launched by Welsh Government and the Development Bank of Wales to support businesses in Wales affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Limited companies, partnerships and sole traders trading for longer than two years were able to access loans up to £250,000 fixed at 2% with an interest and capital repayment holiday for the first 12 months.