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Blog

How much does it cost to run a zoo?

4th April 2014

We don’t think you will believe the figure when I tell you just how much it costs to run Paradise Wildlife Park.

Ok, so here it is, it costs a whopping £8,500 per day, every day to run Paradise Wildlife Park. Now in your head try to multiply £8,500 by 365 days and you've got an astronomical amount, right?

So you may ask yourself how can it cost so much to run Paradise Wildlife Park for a single day, well that is exactly what we're about to explain.

Firstly we would like to point out that Paradise receives no grants or tax breaks. From our current entry fee of £19 per adult the government takes £3.80 in VAT leaving us with only £15.20. It is you, the visitor and your entry fee that funds all of our work and helps play an active role in conservation.

Now let’s take a look at how each £1 of your admission fee is spent:  

  • 3% goes towards our advertising and promotions
  • 5% is spent on rent, services and professional fees
  • 6% on new animal enclosures and park facilities
  • 7% is used for premises upkeep and maintenance
  • 9% goes towards the animal food and their veterinary care
  • 17% on our conservation work and charity support
  • 21% pays for employment cost including National Insurance
  • 32% for VAT, income tax, corporation tax, rates and fuel duty.

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From the breakdown of the different costs you can start to get an idea as to why it is expensive to run a zoo properly.

Of course conservation and animal welfare serve as our highest priority, but second to that is the happiness of you, the visitor of Paradise Wildlife Park. We are constantly looking to upgrade and install new facilities and add new attractions. In order to make sure you the paying guest keep coming back, time after time having a fantastic day out and supporting our conservation work.

We are currently in the process of renovating our indoor rainforest walk through enclosure, making it much more interactive and desirable for both you the visitor and our wonderful rainforest creatures.

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Development is also taking place to build a new outdoor covered play area, next to the existing snake slide attraction. This will allow the fun to continue for you and your children come rain or shine.

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Aside from making sure all of our animals are comfortable, the zoo must be built to withstand changing weather. The enclosure structures must be able to withstand heavy rain, wind or even heat. This requires sturdy materials and planning. Thankfully here at Paradise Wildlife Park we have an extremely hard working maintenance team who make sure this is all possible. Here you can see some of the damage from the big storm at the beginning of 2014. As you can see, there was widespread damage and a large cost to repair and clear up.

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Bringing new animals into the zoo entails a lot of cost. Research has to be done on each animal, their habitats, food and drink, amongst other things. There are a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration. Some animals prefer open air whilst others shade or shelter. Does the animal need water to live in, or some other environment? All of these things have to be assessed before we can house a new animal. There are also veterinary bills to pay, as well as expensive transport fees and administration.

In this sequence, you can see the process when our two Amur tigers, Siberia and Aleena were moved to Paradise:

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Here at Paradise we have over 400 different animals, so it requires a large amount of food to feed all of them. Naturally, every species of animal is different; therefore they have completely different diets and nutritional needs. As if the weekly family food shop isn’t stressful enough, imagine the amount of food needed to feed all of our animals. Luckily for our zoo staff the majority of animal food is given to us by Ocado and then prepared on site. Thank goodness for online food shopping!

There is one specific group of animals we are going to focus on when it comes to the amount of food they eat, our big cats. Currently there are five species of cat that are classed as ‘big cats’, these include; lion, tiger, jaguar, Snow leopard and leopard. Here at Paradise Wildlife Park we have a total of 11 big cats, all with huge appetites. Our meat bill is one of our largest food bills. Some of our big cats, such as Moto our White lion, can consume as much as 20 kilos of meat in one sitting on his own. Over the course of a year, all of the cat's meals add up to a huge bill.

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The cost of heating, light and power are quite significant, especially throughout the winter months. Obviously many of the animals housed at Paradise Wildlife Park are not native to the UK. Therefore we have to create an environment as close to their natural habitat as we can, usually much warmer than our climate here. This is where the need for heat lamps comes in. Some animals will use them more than others, but they appear to be a clear favourite with our meerkats. This winter was one of the highest heating and electricity bills on record.

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Here at Paradise we have a Bore hole well which provides all of our water for outdoor use, and is filtered for indoor use as well as consumption. We have a total of seven pumps which provide water across the site, for jobs such as cleaning animal enclosures and refilling animal water pools. Since we have our own well water costs are kept to a minimum. At the end of each month we have to send a report stating the amount of water we have used to make sure we aren’t using too much.

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Finally to the cost of our staff. Paradise Wildlife Park wouldn't exist without the hard work and dedication of our amazing team. We do have many volunteers who also support our full-time staff, which is a huge help in keeping our costs down.

In the peak season, we can have anything up to 150 staff working for Paradise. From car parking to zoo keepers, everyone works hard to ensure that all of our animals and visitors are kept happy. Roles in the zoo industry are generally not very highly paid, with zoo keeper salaries starting from only £13k p.a. and most of the general park staff paid the minimum wage. However, as we're sure you can imagine, there are many up-sides to working at a zoo.

We hope this has given you a little bit of an insight into how the entrance fee to our zoo is spent. As you can see, zoos are not huge profit generating businesses. It's not a place to get rich! But the richness comes from how rewarding our work is, and what we do for the conservation of species.

So to answer our original question, the cost of running our zoo is £3102500 a year. More than you thought?


Paradise Wildlife Park
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