Zoo axes 16 members of staff in a bid to save money


EDINBURGH Zoo has axed more than one in 12 staff in a bid to save money.

The zoo layed off 16 of its 200 employees at the end of last year after being dogged by financial problems.

Visitor numbers were lower than hoped for in 2010 and many popular attractions have been axed.

But the institution said it was “pleased” not to be sacking as many of its employees as had been feared.

In October last year the zoo culled two healthy, endangered Red River Hog piglets, Sammi and Becca, because they were “surplus to requirement.”

The piglets were born at the zoo in 2009 as part of a European breeding project aimed at boosting their species’ dwindling numbers.

And later in the same month the zoo was forced to close down its popular Rainbow Landings parrot display to save costs.

The £350,000 enclosure allowed visitors to hold and feed dozens of Rainbow Lorikeets.

Plans to build a new state-of the-art vet centre have been put on hold and zoo bosses are also considering finding a new home for the popular sea lions as it is unlikely that the necessary £2 million worth of repairs can be made.

The attraction’s financial struggle has been linked to its inability to sell surplus land which was originally worth around £18 million.

James Stewart, director of resources, said: “After an extensive process, 16 full and part-time jobs were lost across Edinburgh Zoo. This marks an eight per cent reduction in staffing levels.

“Although the individual loss of any job is always regrettable, we are pleased to announce that the number is much less than early reports indicated.

“Our priority has always been to limit the impact on staff and this now marks the end of any existing plans to review staffing requirements.

“While recognising the Scottish economy continues to face difficult times, Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park have many exciting plans for 2011, which we believe will attract more visitors and maintain our status as one of the leading visitor attractions in Scotland, as well as safeguarding the vital conservation, education and research work that we do.”

The arrival of two Giant Pandas, Tian Tian and Yangguang  is hoped to provide a much-needed boost to the zoo when they arrive later this year.

Zoo bosses hope that visitor numbers will soar and are currently making around £200,000 worth of renovations to transform the old gorilla pen for the pair of pandas.