Animal lover Brett Downs travelled from his North Staffordshire home to stage a protest outside Chester Zoo – in a bid to stop the attraction closing down.
The 28-year-old, from Bradwell, was devastated when the zoo warned its future was in danger after it was forced to close by the coronavirus pandemic.
Brett, who wanted to be a zookeeper as a child and is still passionate about animals, decided to pack a bag and travel to Chester to protest after zoos were not included in the Government’s easing of the lockdown restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has since announced they can reopen from Monday, June 15.
Brett said: “I packed my stuff and I went on my own to do a peaceful protest at the side of the road. I got the train from Stoke to Chester and then I peddled from Chester train station to the zoo.
“I got spoken to by a couple of the keepers who said they were more than happy for me to stay where I was, they were very thankful for me for coming and they appreciated all the work I was doing.
“It’s extremely important to save the species of animals that are going extinct.”
Brett stood at the side of the road holding up his banner, he also spoke with people passing by about the importance of conservation and animals. He said his best memories of visiting the zoo were with his nan and grandad as a child. He said: “I’ve got some great memories there but the reptile house used to be my favorite.
“I have always been passionate about reptiles and always remember that place. I loved all the reptiles and how warm it was, it was like a tropical realm.
“It was hot and there were birds flying around everywhere and it was a fantastic environment to be in.
“Saving the zoo means everything. If they couldn’t save or re-home the animals they may have been euthanised, which would have been tragic.”
Chester Zoo will reopen on Monday and has set up an online booking system for visitors. New safety measures include self-scanning ticket lanes, floor markings to clearly indicate two metre distances, multiple hand sanitisation points and a huge amount of signage and protective screens in all key locations and service areas.
After hearing that the zoo was opening to visitors again, Brett said: “I am ecstatic. I feel like I have made a difference by doing this protest and I am overjoyed that it is reopening.”