Hoo Farm planning for the future after Christmas cancellation

With its popular Christmas event cancelled one of the county's top visitor attractions is turning its attention to plans for next year.

'Whisper' the donkey, with keeper Ieuan Howells at Hoo Farm Animal Kingdom, which has had to cancel its popular Christmas event and is now planning for the future
'Whisper' the donkey, with keeper Ieuan Howells at Hoo Farm Animal Kingdom, which has had to cancel its popular Christmas event and is now planning for the future

Like venues across the country Hoo Farm has seen its 2020 programme hit hard by the pandemic, with first the impact of lockdown, and then considerable work to allow it to reopen in line with the government's social distancing measures.

While it has joined the rest of the country's attractions in temporarily shutting down for the second national lockdown, the time has afforded some benefits, with space to carry out work that is not so easy to complete when it normally welcomes 200 people a day for 50 weeks of the year.

Also unlike other businesses it is not simply a case of shutting shop, the 400 animals at the farm all still need the same daily attention they would normally – some maybe even more.

Will Dorrell, who runs the farm, said: "From the animals point of view they miss having people around, some more than others like the parrots and the wolves, they especially pine when there is no one about so we have more work to do with them to stop them thinking about there being no people around.

"There are a lot of challenges but sadly we got quite good at it earlier this year so this time round they have been able to just slot back into it."

Will said they were looking to reopen in December, with plans underway for "two or three big things for next year".

He said: "At the moment we are still in limbo a bit but the current plans are to get back open in early to mid December time then going forward we are putting all our efforts into new attractions next year – we have got two or three big things lined up."

He added: "We have accepted that 'normal' is probably 12 months away. At the moment we are certain that all our practices are Covid secure so we can do that and offer the experience people want when they come here."

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