AN MP HAS voiced concern after the Welsh Government 'rejected' calls to establish a fund to help zoos and aquariums in Wales.

The UK Government has put in place an animal welfare grant of up to £100,000 for England.

The Welsh Government is not intending to replicate the scheme in Wales and is encouraging attractions to apply to its economic resilience scheme.

Dr James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd, who has been in contact with Colette Macdonald, director of Rhyl’s SeaQuarium, said: "Colette is clearly very concerned about how the SeaQuarium will survive this pandemic without a specific support package, and last week I wrote to the Welsh Government calling for them to urgently address this.

“This week, I have sent a joint letter with fellow MPs Virginia Crosbie, Rt Hon David Jones and Fay Jones, to the Welsh Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Welsh Government, Lesley Griffiths MS, emphasising the plight of zoos and aquariums in our constituencies and again calling for a zoos and aquariums fund in Wales.

“Zoos and aquariums are undertaking valuable work at this time to ensure that their animal welfare standards are upheld, and the animals’ health needs continue to be met. As with other animal attractions, SeaQuarium still faces the ongoing costs of maintaining the facility and providing for the animals during the coronavirus pandemic. These include staffing, payments for feed, heating and security, yet currently there is little option for income generation.

“Rhyl SeaQuarium is an important tourist attraction which provides valuable local jobs and it is vital that they, and all other zoos and aquariums in Wales, are supported and remain in a position to protect the welfare of animals on site."

The Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay is desperate to survive the Covid-19 pandemic and has launched an urgent appeal for donations.

The SeaQuarium in Rhyl has been approached for comment.

During last week's virtual Welsh Parliament plenary meeting, Darren Millar, Member of the Senedd for Clwyd West, raised the matter with the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths MS.

He said: “Minister, you've consistently talked about animal welfare since you were appointed to this important role. One thing that you could do to support animal welfare in the current crisis is to establish a Welsh zoos Support Fund.

“You'll be aware that the UK Government established a £14 million Zoo Support Fund to support animal welfare in zoos, aquariums and other animal attractions in England to help get them through the coronavirus pandemic.

“That fund provides up to £100,000, on top of the other support that it is already available from the Treasury, in recognition that zoos still have animals that have to be cared for in spite of the fact that they're closed and not receiving anything in terms of income from ticket sales.

“This sort of fund could provide a huge boost to animal attractions across Wales, including the Welsh Mountain Zoo in my constituency, and places like Anglesey Sea Zoo, Rhyl SeaQuarium and other places in North Wales.

"Will you commit today to establishing a Welsh zoo support fund to support animal welfare in our zoos and animal attractions across Wales?”

In her response, the Minister said that the Welsh Government would not be committing to such as scheme as "zoos were able to apply for funding from the economic resilience scheme."

Mr Millar said: "I was very disappointed by the Minister’s response. With nobody currently allowed to visit zoos and other animal attractions in Wales, they are really struggling and desperately need support if they are to survive.

"The UK Government recognised this and provided a special fund to support them, it’s a great shame that the Welsh Government are not prepared to provide the same level of support to our fantastic zoos here in Wales."

A spokesperson for the Welsh Mountain Zoo said: "“It is extremely disappointing to hear that the Welsh Government are not supporting the emergency fund scheme that has been offered to Zoos and Aquariums in England.

"With running costs of £30,000 per week, and lost income of over £500,000 between April and May, this fund certainly would have provided some much needed assistance.

"Whilst we have just heard that our application for the Economic Resilience Fund has been successful and we are grateful to have received this support, these funds will not cover a month’s running costs. We are continuing to pursue all possible funding avenues at the moment to secure the future of the zoo, but the sad reality is that the longer we are closed, the more we lose.

"Like our friends at Anglesey Sea Zoo and Rhyl Sea Aquarium, we provide such an important resource in terms of conservation, education and recreation and we hope that Government Ministers will reconsider their decision before it’s too late. ”