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Howletts and Port Lympne wild animal parks set to reopen if lockdown is eased

Two of Kent's most popular wild animal parks are planning to reopen to the public "in the very near future".

Bosses at both Howletts and Port Lympne, which are run by the Aspinall Foundation, say all visitors will be able to social distance themselves and adhere to the two-metre rule.

Port Lympne is currently closed, but things look set to change. Pic: Barry Goodwin
Port Lympne is currently closed, but things look set to change. Pic: Barry Goodwin

They are acting in "anticipation of the government’s relaxation of lockdown measures" and believe a staggered reopening will help recover the significant income lost during the closures.

A statement released this afternoon reads: "The parks differ significantly to other Kent wildlife attractions given the size and space available to visitors and animals alike.

"No other animal attraction in Kent are able to offer their guests the option of socially distancing themselves in such a fashion.

"To give customers the confidence to visit the parks, strict social distancing measures will be implemented to provide as safe as experience as possible, not only for visitors but for the parks employees and animals as well."

The number of people allowed into the parks will be limited and a one-way system will be enforced.

Lions at Port Lympne could soon be seeing visitors
Lions at Port Lympne could soon be seeing visitors

Extra toilet facilities are set to be provided to cope with increased usage and to allow for the greater hygiene awareness.

Hand sanitiser stations will be dotted around the parks, and new signage reminding visitors of handwashing guidelines will be installed.

Catering outlets will be offering a takeaway service, and all staff will be issued with PPE and encouraged to wear face masks.

Meanwhile, protective screening will be installed at customer contact points and only card payments will be accepted.

Those planning on visiting the parks are asked to pre-book as arriving on the day will not guarantee entry.

One-way systems around the parks will be introduced
One-way systems around the parks will be introduced

Port Lympne boasts 600 acres, while Howletts is a 100-acre site.

The statement continues: "There is ample space for guests to visit and socially distance themselves from other guests whilst viewing the wonderful animals on site and helping the charity to recover some of the income lost to date to the coronavirus crisis."

Animal encounters and experiences are to be limited to those species not at risk of coronavirus. There have been confirmed cases of tigers testing Covid-19 positive in New York.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent


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