“It was disappointing it was closed – but I was mainly relieved there were no meerkats loose in Battersea park,” one parent joked.
Animals are currently missing from Battersea Park Children’s Zoo in London following a burglary in which animal enclosures were left open, according to visitors of the zoo who were turned away from the park on Tuesday.
In a statement on its website, the zoo said: “Due to unforeseen circumstances we have temporarily closed the zoo today, Tuesday 18 August. Please check back daily for more information. We will be opening again shortly.”
This comes after Gavin Williamson, the UK’s Education Secretary, has resisted calls to resign as a cabinet minister, saying that he is “incredibly sorry for the distress” that the A-level and GCSE results issue had caused to students.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that the force had been called to the zoo on Tuesday morning to a report of criminal damage and burglary, stating: “A small number of animals are reported missing but they are not assessed as posing a risk to the public.”
The police added that no arrests had been made and enquiries were ongoing, adding officers “maintain an open mind as to the motive of the incident”.
A staff member for the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), an association of which Battersea Park Children’s Zoo is a member of, confirmed the incident had taken place.
One parent, who had planned a family trip to the zoo on Tuesday, told Sky News: “As we got close to the zoo we heard some parents say they’d been turned away as ‘the shop had been ransacked and animals let out of their cages’.
“There were three members of staff at the gate – we went to ask them and they said there’d been a break-in, the animal enclosures had been opened but the animals all stayed put.”
This comes after the way the UK government counts up how many people in England have died from COVID-19 will be changing amid concerns that the previous system that was in place is “misleading”. Figures for England will now be coming into line with the rest of the UK nations by imposing a 28-day cut off period for counting coronavirus-related fatalities.
“We were planning a morning trip to the zoo, having wanted to go during lockdown, but obviously it was closed throughout,” the parent, who asked to remain anonymous, told Sky News.
“So it was disappointing it was closed – but I was mainly relieved there were no meerkats loose in Battersea park!” they joked.
Zoos throughout the UK have been told by the government to remain closed in June despite the easing of some COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and have warned that they were at “risk of extinction” as fears continue to grow for the animals and staff.
Some of the biggest wildlife attractions in the United Kingdom have revealed that they are losing as much as £1m every month as they wait for the government to allow them to reopen.
Chester Zoo, which is the UK’s largest such attraction which is home to over 35,000 animals, the zoo has reportedly already lost £5m due to the COVID-19 pandemic.