THE Isle of Wight Reptilarium must raise £1,800 in two weeks or it wil lose £2,000 in critical funding from the Solent LEP, its owner has told the Isle of Wight County Press.

A Crowdfunder campaign has already raised around £4,500, but the business's target is £6,000 and that full amount must be reached for it to secure the extra boost.

Based at Fort Victoria, the Isle of Wight Reptilarium recently invested in a costly zoo licence.

Now, owner Neil Reed says he does not expect to make any money at all in a season devastated by coronavirus. 

Isle of Wight County Press:

He said: "We are a seasonal operation. Our income is between Easter and the end of the summer holidays. We survive off of that until the following Easter. This year, we headed towards Easter having already depleted our reserves, as we were granted our full zoo licence and that came with significant costs. Then the pandemic hit and we lost all income. 

"Then the pandemic hit and we lost all income"  

- Neil Reed, Isle of Wight Repitalrium

"We received the small business grant, but we have now had three months with no income. We have cut all spending to just electricity, food & enrichment. We continue to go to work every day for no pay, to ensure the animals' welfare and to keep the place running.

"Due to the set up of the business, we haven't been able to take advantage of any of the schemes in place to help small business, as we fall through the gaps on each one.

Isle of Wight County Press:

"We had placed a great deal of hope on being able to receive some funding from the government's Zoo Fund initiative. We were only allowed to apply for essential spending and had to demonstrate that we had reduced these costs. We applied for £4,000, to cover food, electricity and enrichment costs until August. We were declined on the basis that we still had funds available and were advised to reapply when all of our funds were depleted.

"We have always wanted to be a self sufficient organisation and it pains me to have to ask for help in this way"

- Neil Reed, Isle of Wight Repitlarium 

"We have been crowdfunding and the Solent LEP has match-funded us, but we must hit our target or we lose the match funding. 

Animal attractions on the Isle of Wight have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

Read more: Caiman, cats, capuchin: Huge fundraising drive to support Isle of Wight animal attractions

Neil said: "This £6,000 we are hoping to raise is now looking very much like that will be all for us to survive on until next year. I can't imagine we will have a season at all this year, which means we will have lost an entire year's income.

"We have always wanted to be a self sufficient organisation and it pains me to have to ask for help in this way."