Zoos Caring for Animals During the Pandemic

The Leesburg Animal Park logo.

The Leesburg Animal Park logo.

Written by Teagan Russell and Teah Sargent

Humans are not alone on this rock floating in space; we share it with animals, and COVID has affected their lives as well. Most zoos gain money from parking fees, gift shops, and food venue revenue, while others charge an admission fee. Without attendance, some zoos have lost a part of their income, so how are they managing? 

According to the Profitable Venture, it isn’t uncommon for zoos to spend $10,000-$12,000 a day in upkeep, and according to the Dakota Zoo, the food bill alone of a zoo with over 600 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects can reach more than $65,000 per year. 

The Leesburg Animal Park says, “While our admission is a large share of our revenue, we do other educational programs that provide income as well. The park has savings to cover the continued care of the animals at the same level. We did have to furlough some of the staff for a period of time, but we’re able to bring everyone back once we are able to open.”

Many zoos have instituted programs outside of visitations in order to bring in more income. “Most educational programs (Zoo-To-You) were canceled initially. We did add a Crittercam program where people could meet animals and learn about them virtually. Little by little, we are doing more of these programs,” explains the Leesburg Animal Park. They add, “We were down over 40 percent at one point in revenue, however, we came back, and opened to our best year ever!”

There are a few ways to help zoos during the pandemic. A method for direct support is, of course, donating. This can easily be done online, as most zoo’s will have a tab or link in which you can give money directly. 

Despite loss of revenue and the need to temporarily furlough employees, many zoos have maintained their care standards through COVID. Food, entertainment, and care have been provided, and most zoos continue to survive and thrive.

Screenshot from the Smithsonian National Zoo panda live cam.