Ipswich travelling zoo 'forced' to give away animals

Kimberley Brown is raising money for her traveling menagerie Kimmy's Zoo in Ipswich. 

Kimberley Brown is raising money for her traveling menagerie Kimmy's Zoo in Ipswich. - Credit: Charlotte McLaughlin/Archant

A travelling zoo in Ipswich has been "forced" to give away some of its animals as the pandemic continues to take a toll.

Kimberley 'Kimmy' Brown went from four years of making profit and getting more bookings than she could handle to donating her meerkat and possum to Hopefield Animal Sanctuary. 

When the pandemic hit Kimmy's Zoo's educational animal visits to schools, care homes, parties, and children's clubs were officially put hold, with only a few dates going ahead between lockdowns.

The gecko at Kimmy's Zoo in Ipswich

The gecko at Kimmy's Zoo in Ipswich - Credit: Charlotte McLaughlin/Archant

"I lost a lot of animals which passed away under lockdown," she said, explaining that she has reduced her collection of animals.

"I have had to replace some."

With funds tight, Kimmy had to look for a different way to keep going, and keep providing for her animals.

She said: "I had to go and get a carer's job to keep things going. It has been hard when we are still trying to look after the animals and that is the issue. 

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"They are like children, the costs don't stop coming." 

Every month Kimmy needs to pay food costs of £400 to £500 and make sure the animals are heated to the correct temperatures, generating more bills. 

She also has to get some rabbits and her new Sugar Glider possums, bought through a loan from her mum, neutered but simply does not have the money right now. 

There has been a lack of Government support because Kimmy's Zoo is mobile so does not pay business rates and is a limited company, meaning Kimmy only draws a small wage from the business.

Insects in the reptile house at Kimmy's Zoo in Ipswich

Insects in the reptile house at Kimmy's Zoo in Ipswich - Credit: Charlotte McLaughlin/Archant

"it does not cover my house costs," she said. "And I don't get the dividends I would normally have."

The businesswoman started up the zoo 10 years ago after completing her zoology degree, and she has considered giving up several times in recent months.

Kimmys Zoo in Ipswich

Armadillo ‘Bam Bam’ at Kimmy's Zoo in Ipswich - Credit: Charlotte McLaughlin/Archant

She said: "I've always loved animals but it's a shame, It's already too stressful. I thought I could keep borrowing money and I'd be okay. 

"I need to remember it's not my fault. Normally we earn a decent wage."

She now has her hopes pinned on a June reopening and says she "can keep going" until then.

The Bearded Dragon ‘Charlie’ at Kimmy's Zoo in Ipswich. 

The Bearded Dragon ‘Charlie’ at Kimmy's Zoo in Ipswich. - Credit: Charlotte McLaughlin/Archant

But she added: "We won't make another lockdown."

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