Chester Zoo’s chief operating officer Jamie Christon said: “As the UK’s biggest and most popular charity zoo, we’ve tried to stay positive during this pandemic.
“Our conservationists have continued to prevent extinction, our virtual days have cheered up the nation, and our learning resources have helped out thousands of homeschooling families.
“We wanted to remain a beacon of hope.
“But now, the government has ordered us to stay closed indefinitely and Chester Zoo is very much fighting for its future.
“This change in law has flicked a switch for us and, heartbreakingly, our lights are now flickering.
“Not being able to open, despite being a huge outdoor site with all the necessary safety measures in place, is having a devastating impact of the future survival of this much-loved charity zoo.
“We’re heading towards debt in excess of £24m by the end of 2020 – this will financially cripple us.
“We absolutely refuse to cut corners when it comes to caring for the animals.
“But ensuring that each and every one of the 35,000 animals at the zoo is receiving the best possible care, every single day, comes at a huge financial cost.
“Not being able to open, with such massive outgoings, puts the future of the zoo itself at risk of extinction.”