The San Antonio Zoo has laid off much of its staff and is closed until further notice, according to zoo officials. In fact, the only employees still working are those who directly care for the animals.
More than 1 million visitors pass through the gates each year to see thousands of animals, and spring is the zoo’s peak season. Its biggest source of revenue is ticket sales and visitor passes, according to CEO and Executive Director Tim Morrow.
“We’ve had to furlough over 50% of our staff, really all the positions that were guest-facing, such as culinary and merchandise departments and our front gate and ticketing,” he said.
Zoo officials said it takes a staff of 600 employees and another 700 volunteers to make it all run smoothly.
Morrow said only direct animal care staff remain. He expects the animals to be well fed during the closure, adding the animals eat restaurant-quality foods delivered every day.
“We feel like we’re in a good place for getting our food supplies for the animals, but it is something we are constantly monitoring,” he said.
Morrow said it takes around $2 million dollars a month to keep the zoo open, which is generally equal to the amount paid by visitors for tickets, passes and merchandise.
The zoo is accepting donations at sazoo.org to help weather the shutdown.
Zoo officials also said the purchase of passes or a plush animal toy through its adopt-an-animal program helps support the zoo.
The plush toys are also available through the website and include a hippo, giraffe, lioness and flamingo — all named for real animals at the zoo.