Animal lovers have been flooding back to enjoy Cotswold Wildlife Park but the park is only able to allow 30 per cent of its visitors in due to Covid restrictions.

After a 'crazy' half term and Easter holidays from the initial rush from families to get back outside, managing director of the park, Reggie Heyworth explained there is still a cap on numbers.

He said: “We have to keep an eye on the numbers coming in to make sure we are running at 30 to 35 per cent of what we would call capacity."

This means the maximum is 3,500 of visiting public.

Mr Heyworth explained that some weekends the park is selling out of tickets online, however in the week the park is still relatively quiet, and he hopes August summer holidays will have no restrictions.

He said: "Once the summer holidays come hopefully things will be back to normal because otherwise it will mean us having to turn people away."

The park was forced to dip into its reserves to feed its animals during the lockdowns as the furlough schemes only covered some costs and the park was not eligible for other grants.

It costs the park around £12-15,000 a day to run and Mr Heyworth said it left them 'treading water'.

thisisoxfordshire: Baby rhino D'Ora at Cotswold Wildlife Park. Picture Tim Hughes

The Park recently celebrated its golden anniversary last year and an apt name was chosen for its new baby Rhino. Incorporating the French word for gold - ‘or’ she was named D’ora. After one of the most challenging years in the Park’s fifty-year history, D’ora’s arrival was a great boost.

She was born on 21 July 2020 and is not so small anymore and weighs about three quarters of a tonne.

The park welcomed a few new animals including tree anteaters and baby binturong. Mr Heyworth said: "I really like the slightly wacky stuff, but my favourites are the rhinos."

For the parks new animal arrivals reopening was a bit of a shock, but Mr Heyworth joked that it was more of a shock to the staff at the park.

He said: “Everybody got quite used to not having the visiting public and it was so nice working here with not many people around.”

He added: “It is actually a bit sad too, because you realise what is lovely about this space is sharing it. People have such a nice time here and it is not the same without the visiting public.

“We just need to stay open, we don’t mind limiting numbers, what we can’t do is keep dipping in and out of these lockdowns and those lockdowns hit us at such difficult times.”

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