THE owner of West Somerset's Tropiquaria Zoo has issued an impassioned plea to help the beloved attraction survive as the coronavirus takes its toll.

The zoo, based at Washford Cross, cares for a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, but has suffered badly since the coronavirus crisis took told, with both a loss of visitors and fresh fruit and vegetables for the animals becoming harder to acquire.

Following an appeal, local supporters of Tropiquaria have helped to boost food supplies, but owner Chris Moiser says with wages to pay and running costs, the zoo is now reluctantly asking for cash donations to help it stay afloat.

Mr Moiser said: "We would assure, that those kind enough to donate, that all our staff are on the living wage, and we have no wish to lay anybody off.

"If donations exceed requirements, we promise to put the funding directly into our current conservation and welfare projects."

Tropiquaria closed its doors to the public on Friday, March 20.

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A fundraising page, gofundme.com/f/tropiquaria-save-our-zoo, has been set up and so far received more than £1,900 in donations.

On Tuesday, (March 24) Mr Moiser said: "The last 48 hours have been absolutely amazing.

"All of us here are totally amazed at the generosity and effort everyone is making locally to help us.

"The volume of food turning up at the gate, the number of people contributing on the fundraising page and other offers of assistance from far and wide. It is overwhelming and very touching." 

Mr Moiser said Tropiquaria had even received 'the entire kitchen stock of one of the larger nearby burger establishments', as well as support from other cafes and restaurants.

However he said he hoped the Government would find a way for zoos across the UK to open in some capacity in the summer, or else he feared for their futures.