Fresno Chaffee Zoo needs your help to make up pandemic losses

Coming up with the $4 million lost in revenue is a daunting task, especially for a zoo already operating on thin margins.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Like many family attractions, zoos nationwide have been hit hard by the pandemic.

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is back open but is down more than 20% in business and now officials are asking for the public's help after seeing revenue dip into the millions.

Officials are now looking into creative ways to try and recoup the millions of dollars lost when zoos nationwide were forced to shut down in mid-March because of the pandemic.

"Being closed during that time gave us a shortfall of about $4 million," said Chief Marketing and Development Officer Alisha Anderson.

Federal Coronavirus Aid relief has helped the zoo pay its bills and employees while keeping the animals fed but coming up with the $4 million lost in revenue is a daunting task, especially for a zoo already operating on thin margins.

Administrators are now doing something they haven't done in more than a decade - asking the public for financial help.

"Everything is different right now, it's different as far as our income goes. That's why we're asking for donations in this way, something we haven't done in about 14 years," said Anderson.

The zoo reopened on June 11 but like most attractions, it relies on ticket sales to balance out its budget.

Administrators say the pandemic's financial impact has forced them to shift some priorities around without having to alter any care for the animals or having to furlough or lay anyone off.

"You still don't make up for those gate sales and the events and the memberships and the things that would've happened during that time."

Despite the need for donations, the zoo will continue to operate as normal with plans for improvements thanks to funding through Measure Z.

"You'll see us still building new things like launching our Kingdoms of Asian project. You'll see all that happening because Measure Z is still there and funding those capital improvements," said Anderson.

You can support the zoo by donating here.
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