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Tourism bosses' fears over Brexit impact on zoos moving animals and birds

PUBLISHED: 16:47 08 March 2019

Giraffes like this one are a popular tourist attraction at Africa Alive! But will Brexit have an impact on them?  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN, Archant.

Giraffes like this one are a popular tourist attraction at Africa Alive! But will Brexit have an impact on them? Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN, Archant.

Bosses of big tourist attractions in East Anglia fear Brexit will have a huge impact if they can no longer import and export live animals and birds.

Giraffes are a big tourist attraction at Africa Alive! But will Brexit have an impact? Pic: Archant.Giraffes are a big tourist attraction at Africa Alive! But will Brexit have an impact? Pic: Archant.

Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! both send animals – as large as giraffes – on a regular basis to other zoos abroad, ‘swapping’ different species and as part of their conservation breeding programe.

Last week, for example, Africa Alive! based at Kessingland sent two of its leopards and two kangaroos to France and received two red river hogs, from France, for its new attraction ‘Hogsnorts’, opening at Easter.

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Fears are that on leaving the EU, transportation would take longer and be more costly. Most animals currently travel through the port of Dover but after an EU exit, this would not have the border inspection required for live animals.

David Field, CEO of the Zoological Society of East Anglia, heading up Banham Zoo and Africa Alive!, said: “We are very, very concerned about the moving of animals, we need to be able to do this, we are trying to do as much now but if we can’t use Dover, we are going to have to look at other options.

David Field, CEO of the Zoological Society of East Anglia. Pic: Archant.David Field, CEO of the Zoological Society of East Anglia. Pic: Archant.

“When you are moving something like a giraffe, you can’t afford to have any delays and there is the welfare of the animal which is the most important thing. We are really concerned it is going to put limitations on our conservation breeding programmes, we will have to plan a lot more in advance, we will need a greater collaboration with our European colleagues and it could have a real impact of exhibiting less.”

Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham send birds such as the rare red crowned crane, abroad as part of its conservation breeding programme.

A spokesperson said: “We very rarely need to move birds into Europe, however the advice we have been given from Biaza, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, is that it is achievable, but may just take longer.”

A red crowned crane, Pensthorpe. Pic: submitted.A red crowned crane, Pensthorpe. Pic: submitted.

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