Coronavirus (COVID-19): Support for zoos and aquariums

Eligibility for animal welfare grants for licensed zoos and aquariums affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

This guidance was withdrawn on

You cannot apply for the Zoo Animals Fund anymore.

If you run a licensed zoo or aquarium in England and are experiencing severe financial difficulties because of lost revenue, you can apply for a grant of up to £730,000.

How much you get will be based on:

  • your animals’ needs
  • essential maintenance work required
  • repair work to support you in attracting visitors

The grant will help you cover these costs up to March 2021. If you’re planning on closing or reducing your collection, the grant can also be used to support you with the costs associated with rehoming animals.

You can use the grant to cover animal-care costs that you cannot lower such as:

  • keepers’ wages
  • animal feed and bedding
  • veterinary care and medicines
  • electricity and gas bills
  • water
  • waste removal
  • habitat enrichment
  • professional membership subscriptions
  • veterinary, transport and staff costs for rehoming animals

You can use the grant to cover maintenance costs in the following categories:

  • works that were pre-planned and are considered essential to maintain the cosmetic appearance of the site, as part of a planned maintenance schedule, so that you can continue to attract visitors from March 2021
  • works necessary to ensure health and safety is maintained for visitors and staff
  • works essential for the continued health and welfare of the animals

If the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) approves your application, you’ll get up to 2 payments throughout the period of the grant scheme. Your financial position and actual spend will be reviewed after each payment.

The fund is:

  • not a guarantee to save every zoo and aquarium business or job
  • intended for zoos who need support in providing for their animals between now and next season
  • in place to protect the welfare of animals living on site or by rehoming


You can apply to the Zoo Animals Fund if your zoo or aquarium is based in England and either:

  • holds a licence (full or dispensation) under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981
  • has been granted an exemption under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and holds a licence under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) Regulations 2018

Before you apply for a grant, you must take all reasonable steps to:

You’ll have to submit evidence of this when you apply.

You can not apply if you are an individual zoos that is part of a group of zoos and/or have a parent company. You can apply on behalf of the group, or your parent company may make an application on behalf of the zoos within the group.

You can apply if you’ve already applied for funding under the Zoos Support Fund between May and July 2020.

You’re not eligible if you’ve already received direct grants of more than €800,000 under the COVID-19 temporary framework once this grant is awarded.

How to apply

Apply for the Zoo Animals Fund.

If you’re in severe financial difficulties, apply as soon as you can to avoid delays in payment.

Published 4 May 2020
Last updated 3 August 2020 + show all updates
  1. New details on how to get support from the Zoo Animals Fund

  2. First published.