As the sun sets on the 950th anniversary year of Dudley Castle, not many will reminisce on the last 12 months with any great fondness.
But it will be foolish to simply dwell on the negatives and not appreciate the acts of kindness that have brightened this year and reminded us all of the power of the human spirit.
The support we received from visitors and well-wishers from across the globe have been hugely uplifting.
It has been truly humbling reading the messages of encouragement from young children donating pocket money to their favourite animals to elderly residents contributing to our cause with memories of visiting the zoo throughout the last eight decades.
We can never say thank you enough to each and every one of our supporters.
Another huge positive we can take from this year is that all the animals have been relatively unaffected by the pandemic or the site closures and they remain safe with their everyday care being delivered throughout.
On the downside the loss of income while closed and reopening under Covid restrictions, resulting in fewer visitor numbers and the cancellation of fundraising events, has meant that in order to conserve cash reserves we ceased all development projects for five months.
However, we have managed to build a new habitat for Giant African tortoise and rebuild the Queen Mary aviary and over the last few months, we’ve been busy building a new exhibit for Southern cassowary and we’re excited to unveil the new species to you once the bird has settled in off-show.
As we look ahead to the coming year our development programme will remain cautious due to the uncertainty over further Covid restrictions but we still to create the new outdoor space for our Bornean orangutans.
The last few months also saw us successfully receiving funding from the Getty Foundation to allow repair proposals to be carried out on four listed Tecton buildings on site, while Dudley Castle was included within Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register, which has opened up new funding opportunities to secure the historic site for future generations.
On behalf of all the staff and animals at DZC, we wish you and your families a safe and healthy 2021.
Zoo Director, Derek Grove.