As most businesses continue to suffer huge losses with the sudden closure brought about by the COVID-19 lock-down, this has not spared the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) commonly known as Zoo, which is also counting losses after it remained closed for about five months. According to Eric Ntalo, UWEC’s Public relations officer, the animal centre has made loses amounting to Shs2bn during the 5-month Covid-19 lock-down.
“Even though the centre reopened on August 8, 2020, some programs are still closed like, ‘animal for a day program,’ ‘behind the scenes,’ among others. Also our accommodation facilities; bandas, restaurants, and apartments are still closed in this phase,” noted Ntalo.
“For now, we shall depend on available resources, gate entrances and other recreation activities manageable in the new normal because the International research programs are on halt since the airport remains closed,” added Ntalo.However, the centre recently got a Shs756m boost from the government which is keeping it running alongside donations from friends of UWEC.
According to Dr. James Musinguzi, the UWEC executive director, the centre is following strict guidelines and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as issued by the health ministry. “As members of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and also Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquariums, we are following the guidelines that were put in place for us to reopen, that must be in conformity with those of the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health,” he said.
Dr. Musinguzi emphasised that not more than 300 people are allowed inside the animal centre on a given day. Limiting the number of visitors, is among the many Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that have to be followed by the tourists. He also noted that UWEC has received an automatic sanitising booth from Alam Group of companies to help disinfect visitor’s bodies and clothing.
Only visitors who are above 6years and can ably wear masks, will be allowed to access the centre. UWEC has maintained entrance fees at shs5,000 for children under 14 and sh10,000 for adults. UWEC used to receive an average of 400,000 visitors every year especially foreigners and school-going children.