June 16, 2020
By: Staff Report
SANFORD – The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens announced a new sustainability campaign to help combat financial losses in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
The “There Is No Zoo Without You” sustainability campaign launched today with a public plea for support.
Though the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens has reopened to the public, following a two-month closure to help stop the spread of COVID-19, community support is being sought to bridge the gap of more than $1.5 million in revenue that was lost.
The Zoo is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that gets its funding primarily from ticket sales, annual memberships, event revenue, programs, and donations. March and April are historically the busiest months of the year for the Zoo’s attendance.
The closure came just days before Spring Break for all Central Florida school systems, the Zoo’s own spring break camp, and forced the postponement or cancellation of several of the Zoo’s largest annual events, including Brews Around the Zoo.
“We’re thrilled that we were able to make the necessary modifications to reopen to the public,” said Dino Ferri, 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.”
The Zoo was officially closed to the public from March 15 through May 11. It costs approximately $500,000 each month to operate the Zoo. Those costs include animal care, nutrition, veterinary care, maintenance, and staff. During the closure, essential staff remained on property to continue operations and expenses were reduced where possible.
The Zoo is still under Modified Operations to safeguard the health and safety of all guests, staff, and animals. However, concerns over the coronavirus remain prevalent in Central Florida, and Seminole County in particular.
“We understand that people are still concerned about the virus,” continued Ferri. “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, support from throughout the region is being requested to help bridge the gap in funding. The Zoo’s Sustainability Campaign seeks to raise $500,000 by the end of August and an additional $1 million by December. This effort will help restore the Zoo’s operating budget to pre-coronavirus levels.
“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, please visit www.centralfloridazoo.org/you.