It is with regret that Wild Planet Trust has to announce that it will not be re-opening Living Coasts as a visitor attraction following its closure during the current global coronavirus pandemic. Falling visitor numbers and the forced closure of all its zoos due to COVID-19 has meant that it has had to look at its cost base and make efficiencies. After nearly twenty years of operation the site also needed substantial maintenance that the Trust is no longer in a position to afford.
The next stage is to find homes for the animals. Living Coasts is part of a world-wide network of zoos and aquariums and we will be looking for homes for the animals within them once movement restrictions have been lifted. Most of the animals kept at Living Coasts are marine species that will need specialist facilities. Living Coast is confident that good new homes for the animals will be found, but at present it is unclear how long this process may take.
All 44 staff at Living Coasts have been placed at risk of redundancy. This will be considered within the context of the wider restructuring of the Trust’s zoos, and potential redundancies at their other sites (Paignton Zoo and Newquay Zoo).
Wild Planet Trust would like to thank the many people who have visited and supported Living Coasts over the years, and the many businesses, and grant giving trusts which have support our vital conservation work.
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Living Coasts has been a hugely popular destination for school trips since it opened in 2003. Its unique setting has allowed us to bring marine conservation to life for more than 6,500 school visitors a year, inspiring them to discover more about life on our coastlines, and to get involved in its protection. We have always held conservation at the heart of our approach, and recent years have seen a concerted effort to involve our schools and communities in our work, to help us tackle the challenges that face our wildlife, and wild places, both here in Torbay, and around the world.
Conservation is fundamentally about people and the value that we all place on nature and the world around us. We hope that many of these initiatives may be continued in the future from our other sites. The issues we have attempted to tackle have not gone away, and the need to inspire and involve people from all walks of life with their solutions, has never been greater. Our reach has been global; from surveying Torbay’s very own seagrass meadows, to conserving penguins and other seabirds in the Falkland Islands and South Africa.
Annual beach cleans epitomise our belief that conservation begins at home, and we have been constantly overwhelmed by the efforts of local people and other organisations to support us in making these a success. Innovative approaches to addressing the scourge of plastic pollution have allowed us to motivate and empower our guests to get involved and become part of a solution. Our ‘Plastic Oceans’ schools workshop is just one of a growing number of sessions that bring sustainability to the fore, and highlight the importance of individual action. From sustainable fishing to climate change there are things we can all do that make a difference, and we believe that Living Coasts has played a vital role in bringing these issues to people’s attention.