A Kent animal park has slashed its opening hours to just three days a week over the next four months.
Howletts Wild Animal Park, in Bekesbourne, near Canterbury, will only be open from Friday to Sunday between 10am and 4pm under its new winter opening times.
The changes came into force last week and are set to remain in place until the end of March when bosses at The Aspinall Foundation, which runs the 90-acre site, says normal hours will resume.
The reduced opening times do not apply during the school holidays.
It means the park will be open seven days a week over the Christmas half-term – excluding Christmas Day – and during the school breaks in February and March.
An Aspinall Foundation spokeswoman says no jobs have been lost as a result of the new opening times, adding: “These are our winter season opening hours, which excludes school holidays where we are open every day.
“From March 29, 2024 we will be open seven days per week.
“Many other venues and parks have varied seasonal opening hours.“
Port Lympne, the charity’s other park, remains open full-time and is not affected by the changed hours.
The site near Hythe offers unique overnight stays, something which is not available at Howletts.
It has glamping experiences, treehouse accommodation and panoramic bubble pods as well as a four-star hotel.
An annual pass allowing unlimited entry to both parks throughout the year costs £70 for an adult and £60 for a child.
Last year, Aspinall Foundation chairman Damian Aspinall told KentOnline he would happily see Howletts and Port Lympne shut, or turned into rescue centres, if it meant their animals living wild.
The Foundation has already successfully rewilded hundreds of animals, including gorillas, hyenas and the first-ever cheetahs, cementing its place among the world’s leading organisations in conservation.
Mr Aspinall is now looking to transfer the entire Howletts elephant herd to Africa, a project he describes as the charity’s “greatest challenge”.