DUDLEY Zoo has announced it will close from today as the coronavirus crisis grips the UK.

Dudley Zoo and Castle director Derek Grove said "it is with great sadness that we’ve taken the decision to close our gates from 4pm today (Sunday March 22)."

He said: "The decision was the only available course of action to ensure the safety and well-being of our visitors, staff members and animals and it wasn’t taken lightly - we tried our utmost to stay open but this is ultimately the right decision to protect our community around us.

"Unfortunately we have no idea how long we will remain closed.

"However, we overcame challenges from a prolonged closure in 2000 due to Foot and Mouth and we’re hopeful we can do the same again."

He said it would be "business as usual" for keepers at the zoo who will be looking after the 1,600 animals at the attraction on Castle Hill.

The zoo's St George’s Day event is cancelled and staff will be contacting ticket holders to issue refunds.

The Black Country Museum closed for an initial six-week period on Wednesday March 18.