FANS have been left devastated after a popular Aussie tourist attraction faces being closed for good after 50 years.
The Dolphin Marine Conservation Park in Coffs Harbour, Australia, is on the brink of collapse after facing financial difficulties.
The beloved attraction is Australia’s oldest captive dolphin conservation park and a family favourite for people across the country.
It is one of two Australian sea-life centres that home and treat sick and injured dolphins and is also home to sea lions and turtles.
The park revealed it has entered voluntary administration due to a lack of funding, according to 7 News.
Located between Sydney and Brisbane, the park had been receiving donations which were its lifeline to surviving after being denied grants by all levels of government, managers said.
But following the pandemic and severe weather such as flooding and bushfires, the donations began to dwindle.
The parks website has now issued a desperate plea on their website in a bid to save the venue.
Managing director Terry Goodall told AAP the animals would be well cared for if they have to move, but it could cost Coffs Harbour up to £10.5million a year in lost tourism revenue.
“The animals will be OK — the loser will be Coffs,” he said.
“It’s us or the Big Banana.”
In a statement, he also said: “By going public, we hope the government will see that we’re at serious risk of closing the marine conservation park and marine wildlife rescue facility and offer support to get us through this tough period.
“We also hope the community will rally around us with support for a fundraising campaign we’ve launched to continue to provide optimum welfare for the animals in our care and the critical marine wildlife rescue and rehabilitation service for the NSW Coast.”
If the park is forced to close, the animals will be re-homed by the industry’s peak body, the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia.
Closure of the park will also see fifty employees lose their jobs as they continue to ask visitors to donate.
The Dolphin Marine Conservation Park has also taken to social media to urge supporters to donate what they can through a PayPal link.
“Consecutive natural disasters, including bushfires, floods, COVID-19 and more floods, have taken their toll on our organisation,” the page wrote.
“The series of RBA interest rate rises is the last straw. With less discretionary income, fewer people visit, and guests spend less.
“Every donation counts, and we’re incredibly grateful for the people and businesses that have already come forward and donated or offered support”.
Goodall has also made a last ditch attempt to get families back through the park doors by encouraging those who may have visited the park in previous years to consider returning with family passes now selling for £60.
‘If someone’s last visit to Dolphin Marine Conservation Park was one to two years ago, they will be impressed with the changes we’ve made and the incredible connection between our team and animals,’ he said.
“A family pass is £60 for two adults and two children for four hours of educational talks, presentations and the opportunity to safely get closer to dolphins and Australian sea lions than anywhere else in Australia.
“With community support, we hope people can continue to experience these unique marine mammals and other marine animals for many more years”.
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