Review reveals £10m zoo cash

Blackpool Zoo - mammals senior keeper Sophie Fawzy with the Zebras.
Blackpool Zoo - mammals senior keeper Sophie Fawzy with the Zebras.
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AROUND £10m has been invested in Blackpool Zoo since it was transferred to a private operator, it has been revealed.

In April it will be 10 years since Blackpool Council handed over the running of the East Park Drive attraction to Grant Leisure.

The lease was then sold in 2007 to Spanish company Parque Reunides, which currently runs the 32-acre park.

Blackpool Council’s Outside Bodies Scrutiny Panel met with zoo director Darren Webster as part of a review of the zoo’s operations.

A report from the meeting said investment had resulted in a 40 per cent increase in visitor growth and a 170 per cent leap in revenue since the zoo was handed over to the private sector.

The council still owns the land, but agreed a 125-year lease.

The zoo’s marketing manager Della Belk said: “We have enjoyed fantastic growth here at Blackpool Zoo in the past decade and it is fantastic to see the money we have invested has translated into to such significant returns.

“We have a growing base of loyal visitors who enjoy learning about all the different species we have here.

“Our staff have also played a huge part in this success and their hard work, dedication and passion for the animals must be recognised.

“With a new season about to start and even more investment this year we are looking forward to a very bright future.”

Last year the zoo celebrated its 40th anniversary with visitor numbers up one per cent on the previous year and revenue up four cent.

Blackpool Zoo was the last council-operated zoo in the country until it was decided to appoint a private operator because the council could no longer invest in the attraction.

No cash was paid for the lease, but the agreement required substantial investment to be made.

A £600,000 upgrade of the monkey house is scheduled to be completed this spring.

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