Fresno Chaffee Zoo needs your help to survive COVID-19 closure

CEO Scott Barton says if the zoo stays closed for several more months, then tough times are ahead.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Chaffee Zoo officials are worried they could soon face financial hardships.

They're now asking the public for help since they can't open during what would typically be their busiest months.

Signs and closed gates stop anyone in their tracks trying to reach the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

The zoo has been closed since mid-March, and CEO Scott Barton says they're surviving, but if things continue this way for several more months, then tough times are ahead.

"Ultimately if we are not able to reopen until later this year we would have to look at some layoffs, and we would certainly look at cutting costs," says Barton.

The federal government's PPP loan has provided major support and prevented any layoffs.

Measure Z also helps with about 30% of operating costs, which is good, but the zoo still needs to come up with 70%.

According to Barton, a majority of that money is raised between March and May, through admission and special events.

"That part of our revenue is at zero right now while we are trying to maintain our team and the great care of the animals," says Barton.

The closure isn't just difficult financially, but also emotionally for some animals who crave the human interaction that comes with crowds.

"The orangutans like to watch people and like to interact with people and I think the elephants are also very intelligent, very social," says Barton.

Above all, Barton says quality of care for their animals is top priority.

At the moment, they're not sure when they will open back up, but when they do, they expect new changes.

"We're pretty sure that we won't be at normal operating, so it will be a reduced capacity for the zoo," Barton says.

Barton says construction projects will continue as scheduled, since money was specifically set aside for those purposes.

Anyone who wants to help the zoo can do so by making a donation by clicking here.
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