THE government has announced zoos can reopen in a welcome boost for county venues.

At yesterday’s daily press conference Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the anticipated announcement zoos and safari parks could reopen from Monday, June 15, in the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

The news will come as some relief to All Things Wild in Honeybourne. In April the Honeybourne centre’s owner Rebecca Harris told us they could be forced to close if the Covid-19 situation dragged on.

After All Things Wild closed to the public they were paying out £2,750 per week for 550 plus animals in its care, but had to cope with the loss of income from no visitors. Most of its staff were furloughed, with trained animal keepers among those kept on to help the care of the animals - many of which have been rescued.

In a Facebook post prior to the announcement, All Things Wild said: “We are hoping to hear Boris Johnson announce zoos can begin to re-open. Whilst this is fantastic news, we await official confirmation from DEFRA that we are able to re-open, and for them to outline the exact guidelines that we will need to adhere to.

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“Once this has been received, and everything required has been implemented, we will post an update on our opening date.

"Thank you all for your incredible support over the recent days, weeks and months. We still have a long way to go, but this is certainly a huge step in the right direction.”

Meanwhile West Midland Safari Park is to reopen its drive-through attraction after getting the green light from government.

The safari park announced it will reopen its doors on Monday with safety measures in place.

Customers will be able to enjoy the drive-through safari, but its theme park rides and walk-through exhibits will be out of bounds.

A spokesperson for West Midland Safari Park said: “As a major family attraction here in the West Midlands we are delighted that safari parks and zoos have the go-ahead to reopen.

"It will be fantastic for families when we reopen, but we will be doing so with various safety measures in place. We will only be opening our drive-through facility so guests can enjoy seeing our animals again, including our growing lion cubs.

“Our park rides and walk-through exhibits will remain closed as we await further clarification from the government. However, we believe this will happen very soon but with strict social distancing measures in place. To help us manage the reopening safely we will be limiting visitor numbers and asking guests to pre-book tickets online.”

Last week, the park’s new managing director said he was “disappointed” by government rule changes which prohibited the attraction from reopening this month.

But following huge public pressure, including several zoos announcing they were at risk of closure, the government has announced a U-turn on the decision, allowing all zoos to reopen.

West Midland Safari Park has been temporally closed since March 19 in response to the coronavirus outbreak. More than 100 staff were placed on furlough as a result.