When you think of the financial damage the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, you think of restaurants, and local businesses, but Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is facing its biggest challenge ever.

Most people don't think of a zoo as a place that would have issues during a pandemic, but think about it, a zoo can't shut down, they have to be open everyday to take care and feed all the animals, so a lockdown, or closing for a period of time, is just not possible.

Now the zoo is open, but with people staying home, they lost a lot of business during their peak seasons, the spring and summer. Since attendance has slipped significantly, and the overall cost of operation has remained the same, the zoo is experience a deficit of around $1 million dollars.

Since the zoo is basically a non profit organization, and since the pandemic has limited their capacity to 50%, they rely heavily on attendance and donations. According to wfsb.com, the zoo recently launched an online emergency operating fund to help with the overall cost of feeding and taking care of the animals.

Don Goff, the Beardsley Zoo Deputy Director, explained the dire financial situation the zoo now finds itself in.

We were closed from the middle of March until June 1. Two and a half months, no visitors, so no revenue from that aspect of it, and during that time, all of the zoo’s 350 animals, from the turtles to the tigers and everyone in between, had to be fed and taken care of. We had animal care staff taking care of the animals ever day, but of course we missed the visitors. We’ve lost all of our group sales. No school groups, no events, no rentals, birthday parties, any gatherings due to COVID restrictions. We’ve lost that whole entire side of our revenue stream, so it makes a pretty big impact on us, we typically see about 50,000 kids a year. All of those group outings were wiped out by the pandemic.

The latest stimulus bill should help with some paycheck protection to keep staff working. The idea is the emergency fund will support the day to day costs and help the zoo through its slower winter months until those groups can return. We take all donations, large or small, every bit helps, every bit.

If you would like to help save the zoo, and want to donate to the zoo’s emergency fund, just click on the link, I'm sure the animals would all say a big thank you.

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