Zoos’ vital conservation work is being put at risk by a Covid-related funding crisis.
Breeding programmes to rescue rare species may have to be cancelled, with many zoos facing the biggest cash crisis in their history.
The body that represents British zoos says a government rescue package is inaccessible for most of its members.
Only one zoo has claimed successfully, the BBC has learned.
Zoos face huge income losses due to lockdown and reduced visitor numbers. Ultimately, this will impact on their ability to care for species which are the last of their kind on Earth, and now found only in zoos.
“The extinct-in-the-wild species are absolutely dependent on human care,” said Dr John Ewen of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
“It’s our decision about which way to go forward that determines extinction or recovery.”