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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Dalton zoo boss brings seasonal cheer with free admission

A TOP tourist attraction is scrapping admission fees for all visitors this winter.

South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Dalton will be free to everyone from today until February 2011.

Children will continue to receive free admission until Good Friday.

The offer includes weekends and school holidays.

Owner of the park, David Gill, is confident no other tourist attraction has ever run such a promotion.

By waiving admission for the entire winter season he hopes to avoid a massive influx of visitors all at once.

Unlike some other tourist attractions, Dalton zoo retains its full time staff and if the promotion is a success, it could mean extending the contracts of seasonal staff.

Mr Gill said: “The idea of giving something away is not as stupid an idea as you might think because it’s creating goodwill and helping families who can’t afford to come normally.

“We want to get as many people here as possible and we hope people will eat here; we’ve got special menus on and we hope we can make money out of the restaurant side and gift shop and cover the costs that way.”

Mr Gill added that he hoped the promotion would help ease people’s financial woes during these difficult times.

He said: “Come the end of October people are saving for Christmas and paying off Christmas afterwards. Money is a huge thing for people.

“In winter it’s difficult for people to make the decision to go out for the day with the kids.”

Mr Gill is hoping the free admission will give people an incentive to visit outside of the tourist season when the weather is traditionally less predictable.

All the attractions will be available, although some of the animals may be indoors due to the weather.

The popular animal feeding sessions will continue to be held daily. Visitors will have the opportunity to hand feed giraffes, penguins, kangaroos and emus as well as seeing the tigers, lions and jaguars hunt for their food.

And just because admission is free it does not mean the zoo will scrimp on its Christmas attractions.

The animal park plans to run ‘The Magic of Christmas’ programme as usual.

Visitors can meet, pet and hand feed Santa’s reindeers and see the illuminations.

Additional charges will apply for the ice skating rink, the nativity and Santa’s Grotto.

The park’s marketing and development manager Karen Brewer hopes school groups will make the most of the free admission.

She said: “Schools and groups are welcome to come Monday to Friday and use the park as a learning resource.

“We’ve never done this before so we’ll have to suck it and see.”

Christmas at the zoo begins on November 27 when the park will be open until 8pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and every day from December 17 until Christmas Eve.

Visitors will have unlimited access but the usual terms and conditions apply.

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