‘There is no zoo without you’: Central Florida Zoo works to combat $1.5M in financial losses due to COVID-19

Zoo asks guests to donate to sustainability campaign

Image courtesy of the Central Florida Zoo

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Garden launched a sustainability campaign Tuesday aimed at recovering from an economic blow to its revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The attraction said it’s suffered a loss of $1.5 million in its two-month closure meant to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

In its public plea for support, the zoo is calling upon the community to help it survive the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The non-profit organization says it gets its funding primarily from ticket sales, annual memberships, event revenue, programs and donations.

The Central Florida Zoo reports March and April as historically the busiest months for attendance. The unprecedented closure due to the coronavirus also forced the zoo to cancel its spring break camp and large annual events such as Brews Around the Zoo.

Though it reopened to the public in May, zoo officials say it needs to bridge the gap in its financial losses. Operating at a lower capacity and with extra sanitation and cleaning measures in place has prompted the attraction to spend more hours ensuring public health safety resulting in fewer opportunities for guests to visit.

“We’re thrilled that we were able to make the necessary modifications to reopen to the public,” said Dino Ferri, the zoo’s CEO. “It’s been great to see guests back in the park again, but the truth is, our financial resources have been depleted and we don’t want to wait until it is too late to let the community know that we need their help.”

It costs approximately $500,000 each month to operate the Zoo, according to a news release. Those costs include animal care, nutrition, veterinary care, maintenance and staff. Zoo officials say during the closure, essential staff remained on the property to continue operations and expenses were reduced where possible.

“We understand that people are still concerned about the virus," Ferri said in a news release. “Even though we’re able to operate at 50% capacity, we have not seen that level of attendance in the month since we reopened.”

To ensure that there is still a local zoo in the community for years to come, the sustainability campaign seeks to raise $500,000 by the end of August and an additional $1 million by December. By reaching these fundraising goals, the zoo would have restored its operating budget to pre-coronavirus levels, according to a news release.

"The amount of money needed to continue operating the Zoo may sound overwhelming," Ferri said. "But if every household in the Central Florida region was able to make a $20 donation, we would be in a much better position to continuing serving the community as an education and conservation resource."

To make a contribution to the “There Is No Zoo Without You” sustainability campaign, click here.