PONDEROSA Zoo in Heckmondwike is to reopen its doors on Monday after an easing in coronavirus lockdown measures.

Tickets are available to purchase online from today for the animal attraction, which has missed out on £100,000 in revenue since it was forced to close in March.

Staff at the popular zoo have put a number of safety measures in place and have brought in online bookings for the first time in readiness for the reopening.

Zoo manager Eve Fern said they were delighted to be reopen to the public once again, but would be limiting visitor numbers until any further easing is announced.

"We are limiting visitors numbers and the zoo will operate on a one way system. Visitors will also need to book their tickets online and will be given a half hour time slot for arrival.

"This will cut any queues and only one person will be allowed in the ticket office at a time."

She added that indoor animals areas, such as the reptile house and bunny barn, and play areas would remain closed for the time being.

In addition the cafe will operate as a takeaway and the onsite restaurant will remain closed.

Animal keepers at the zoo, which is home to more than 130 animals, from reindeer and meerkats to serval, have been working throughout the shut down.

Due to the loss in income, they have relied on donations, both of cash and animal feed, to get them through the last few months.

Some of the staff furloughed since the closure will now be returning to work, but those in the restaurant and some customer service staff will remain off work.

Of the restrictions on visitor numbers Miss Fern added: "On a busy day in the summer we could have between 500 and 600 visitors, so by limiting numbers to 200, this is less than 50 per cent.

"We hope that as the lockdown restrictions are eased further, then we will be able to safely welcome more visitors back."

Prior to the Government announcement that zoos and safari parks in England could reopen from June 15, Ponderosa was urging people to lobby their MP ahead of a debate in parliament regarding how zoos can move forward through the covid-19 pandemic.

But the day before the debate the Government announced that animal attractions such as Ponderosa could reopen alongside non-essential shops and businesses.

Bosses at Ponderosa said they needed a bit more time to get new measures in place, such as the online booking system, so set Monday, June 29, as its reopening day.