A relief fund set up by a businessman will match-fund all donations to ZSL (Zoological Society of London) up to £500,000 to help it recover from the crisis.
The charity, which manages London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo, is facing a £20m funding gap this year as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The match-funding programme is provided by the Scheinberg Relief Fund, which was set up by Israeli-Canadian businessman Mark Scheinberg and his family to support organisations and communities during the pandemic. The fund amounts to $50m and supports charities and projects across 10 countries including the UK.
Visitor limit too low to recoup costs
ZSL’s zoos closed on 21 March, as lockdown measures were imposed across the country. The charity launched an emergency fundraiser three days later, asking for the public’s support to help it care for its animals while all income from ticket sales had dried up.
The zoos reopened on 15 June and are currently operating at a limited number of visitors a day – 3,000 for Whipsnade Zoo and 2,000 for London Zoo, which the charity said it is “well below the numbers needed” to recoup costs.
Last month, ZSL also launched a TV fundraising campaign, fronted by Sir David Attenborough, which raised £3m.
The Scheinberg Relief Fund supports projects operating in four areas: equipment and supplies, food insecurity, the elderly and animal welfare. Other charities it funds in the UK include the Daily Mail’s Mail Force Charity, Jewish Care, The Felix Project and The Care Workers’ Charity,.
The match-funding scheme will be open until 15 September.
James Wren, fundraising director at ZSL, said: “It is heartwarming to see the response from the public in supporting us during this very challenging time.
“I hope the generous support from the Scheinberg Relief Fund inspires more people to donate to help us stay open and continue our global conservation work.”
At the end of June, the government announced a £100m funding package to help zoos and aquariums recover from the crisis. Applications are open until 16 November.