COLCHESTER Zoo has revealed it is preparing to reopen within a “matter of weeks” but is preparing a raft of new restrictions for visitors.

The popular attraction has been closed for eight weeks since nationwide lockdown measures came into force.

The closure has put immense financial strain on the facility, with it facing bills of £25,000 per day to feed and care for its hundreds of species.

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But zoo bosses have announced they are now finalising plans to reopen once Government rules allow it.

As part of the plans, a number of new restrictions will be in place once including a limit on visitor numbers.

A system whereby tickets must be booked online for a specific entry slot will be in place, indoor areas including some enclosures may be closed and visitors will be advised to bring protective equipment.

Basildon Standard: Visitor will hopefully be able to see the zoo's new pygmy hippo in a few weeksVisitor will hopefully be able to see the zoo's new pygmy hippo in a few weeks

Dr Dominque Tropeano, director of Colchester Zoo, said: “The Government has indicated attractions such as the zoo may be allowed to open from July and so we are gearing ourselves to this date. But we have put in place the opening mission to open so our aim is to be ready in June should we be allowed to open our doors.

“The date of re-opening depends on government decision and we are not in control of when this will be.

“We will need to evaluate what exactly opening means but we know this will not be the same day out as visitors have experienced for many years and, inevitably, restrictions will be in a place.

“From what we have been told, in Europe, where many parks and zoos are now open, the attendance has only been registered as 30 per cent of their usual attendance.”

He added: “Financially this will make our opening very tough but we have to start somewhere so we welcome the Government proposal all being well, opening is only a matter of weeks away or earlier if possible.”

For further details of the zoo’s reopening or the planned restrictions, visit colchester-zoo.com.