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Funding lifeline available for regional Victorian zoos

Joint Media Release from Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, The Hon Michael McCormack, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator The Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley, and Senator The Hon Sarah Henderson 


Australia’s zoos and aquariums will receive a much-needed funding lifeline with the Federal Government unveiling a $94.6 million support package to help them get through the COVID-19 crisis.

This funding will assist exhibiting zoos and aquariums with the fixed operational costs associated with the caring of their animals, while also helping to ensure Australian zoos and aquariums can remain viable and ready to welcome visitors when restrictions are eased.

Senator Sarah Henderson said the initiative will mean that zoos and parks like the Ballarat Wildlife Park, Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary in Barwon Heads, and The Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park which ave been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for funding.

“This lifeline will be vital for regional Victorian zoos which have had many of their revenue streams dry up during this crisis,” Senator Henderson said.

“These parks and zoos play a very important role in our community and we want to make sure they can continue to be a major economic contributor into the future.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said zoos and aquariums would continue to be crucial to the visitor economies of many regional towns across Australia when their doors open again.

“Keeping our regional zoos and aquariums in the best shape possible as we deal with this pandemic will be vital to helping regional communities get back on their feet, sustaining local jobs,” Minister McCormack said.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the funding lifeline was part of a $94.6 million support package unveiled by the Morrison-McCormack Government.

“It’s absolutely crucial that parks and zoos like the Ballarat Wildlife Park, Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary, and The Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park can still operate on the other side and play a major role in helping the local tourism industry to recover from this,” Minister Birmingham said.

“We also shouldn’t underestimate the huge positive flow-on effects these zoos and parks provide to the local economy. They bring thousands of visitors into the region who then spend millions of dollars visiting other attractions, sleeping in our hotels and dining in our restaurants.”

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the funding would help ensure Australia’s zoos and aquariums could continue to provide quality treatment and care to their animals during this time.

“While COVID-19 may be keeping visitors away, zookeepers, aquarium owners and veterinarians continue to play a lead role in wildlife recovery after the bushfires, from treatment and rehabilitation to the development of insurance populations,” Minister Ley said.

Eligible exhibiting zoos and aquariums will have access to a grant that contributes towards up to six months of its animal welfare operating costs. This includes animal feed, enclosure, health and other specialised care expenses, and utilities directly related to the housing and caring for animals.

In addition to this support to help with operational costs, zoos and aquariums who meet the criteria will be able to apply for the JobKeeper program to assist with staffing costs.

Austrade will work with the Zoo and Aquarium Association to identify eligible members, as well as state and territory tourism organisations to identify non-members which may be eligible for financial assistance.

This initiative is part of the Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

29 April 2020.

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