Exmoor Zoo has a reprieve after receiving government emergency funding just weeks before it would have been forced to close down.

Ebony, the Exmoor Zoo black leopard - the 'Exmoor Beast'. Picture: Exmoor ZooEbony, the Exmoor Zoo black leopard - the 'Exmoor Beast'. Picture: Exmoor Zoo

The attraction at Bratton Fleming has had its application approved by Defra for a grant from the Government’s Covid-19 zoo emergency fund.

Exmoor Zoo trustee Danny Reynolds said they believed they may be the first zoo in the South West to successfully make a grant bid so far.

But he warned the emergency grant was only a respite and the zoo would still need support from the public for its fundraising appeal.

He said: “The emergency grant will enable us to maintain the welfare of the animals until the end of July.

A hunting dog at Exmoor Zoo. Picture: Exmoor ZooA hunting dog at Exmoor Zoo. Picture: Exmoor Zoo

“This relieves a tremendous amount of pressure on the zoo and means at least for a little while the animals can come first.

“Only zoos within six weeks of closing are eligible to receive this grant and they must prove no other means of available income or loan from the government initiatives.”

Mr Reynolds said they still needed public help: “Any donations you have recently given us we will try and keep back for when the grant runs out as no further protection or income for the animals exists after this.

“It seems that there may not be any tourism for the South West at all this year. Therefore, the longer we can get into winter with your help in the form of donations the better our chance of surviving.

Bush dogs at Exmoor Zoo. Picture: Exmoor ZooBush dogs at Exmoor Zoo. Picture: Exmoor Zoo

“A really big thank you from all the animals and everybody here at the zoo for all your help and generosity but please do not forget us – winter has yet to come.”

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby said: “I am absolutely delighted that Exmoor Zoo have been successful in applying for grant funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

“Throughout this crisis the Government has committed to supporting viable businesses and Exmoor Zoo is certainly that and I am very much looking forward to a socially distant visit there when they are able to reopen, hopefully later this summer.”

Anyone who wishes to make a donation can go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-our-zoo .