Ipswich-based mobile zoo appeals for donations to survive coronavirus crisis

Kimmy's Mobile Petting Zoo in action before the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: GARY DONNISON

Kimmy's Mobile Petting Zoo in action before the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: GARY DONNISON

An Ipswich-based mobile zoo has been forced to turn to fundraising to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

Kimmy’s Mobile Petting Zoo normally travels round schools, parties and nursing homes, providing education and entertainment with its animals.

But when the lockdown came into place in March, all business dried up - leaving Kimmy Brown with 50 animals – including a 6ft-long boa constrictor and a skunk – to look after, as well as her 11-month-old daughter.

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She said: “You can’t be bitter, but it’s like having little children to look after. They’re like your family. It’s not nice, not knowing if you will be able to pay a vet bill if it comes in.

“When you count the lizards, the snakes, the bugs and everything, we’ve probably got about 50 animals altogether.”

She explained that her business does not qualify for any of the government assistance, leaving her to fend for herself:

“Because we have the animals at home, we don’t pay business rates so we completely fall through the net. We don’t qualify for any grants whatsoever.”

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So far, she has cancelled every outgoing payment that she can, has furloughed herself and her two employees, and is now selling her van.

Find all of our coronavirus coverage here.

She said: “We’re all furloughed, so we can’t do anything that provides a service. We can’t sell vouchers in advance, so the fundraising was the only thing that we can do.

“It’s very stressful. What if I had an animal emergency?

“It’s not like a disco that you can put in the garage and just leave until the end of the pandemic.

“There’s no money in the business account whatsoever. I’m using my money at the moment. We’re living off my husband’s overdraft.

“They say you can get a loan, but what if it doesn’t pick up again? What if people are afraid?

“I don’t want to have to get a loan because what if I can’t pay it back?

“I’ve just got another job to help pay for the animals – you’re allowed to work while you’re furloughed – but I have to work around the animals, the baby, and my husband’s working from home 8am to 5pm. So it’s quite difficult to fit it all in.

“The cleaning is the hardest part. Trying to fit all of that around a baby napping is a bit of a disaster.

The zoo has currently raised £836 of its £2,000 target.

Donations to the fundraising campaign can be made here.

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