Hundreds of zoos and aquariums across the U.S. risk being closed due to financial constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic. At the start of March this year, zoo and aquarium operators were forced to shut down to contain the spread of the virus. Four months down the line, the zoos are now on the brink of survival. Case in point is the Oakland Zoo, which has been in existence for nearly 100 years. Since zoo visitors stopped streaming in, it has been difficult for the zoo. The animals in the zoo require just over $50,000 worth of food on a daily basis, making it challenging for the zoo to continue operating without revenue from regular zoo visitors.

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Joel Parrott, president of the Oakland Zoo, said in an interview that the zoo will soon run out of supplies and may not survive further without funding.

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“We have already lost the bulk of our summer revenue and are living off whatever reserves we have left, but they are going to run out at some point,” Parrott said.

The situation being faced by the Oakland Zoo is replicated across hundreds of other zoos and aquariums in the country. This month, the state of California allowed the Oakland Zoo to reopen its doors to visitors. But the slow revenue generated from reopening activities cannot sustain the daily maintenance and feeding needs of the animals. Zoos and aquariums in most states are seeing fewer numbers of visitors, prompting administrators to appeal for support from the local communities and governments.

The National Association of Zoos and Aquariums says that about 75% of the zoos represented by the association have reopened. However, reopening does not solve the problem of financial constraints. According to Dan Ashe, president of the association, most zoos are only hitting 20% to 50% of their normal revenues. This leaves a big gap that has to be filled from other sources. With a significant drop in revenue, it becomes impossible to continue running these facilities.

Tara Reimer, president and CEO of the Alaska SeaLife Center, said, “If we don’t have enough money to make it through the winter, we have no option but to send these animals away and close the facility.”

Via Huffington Post

Image via Todd Dailey