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Cincinnati Zoo asking for donations to help feed animals amid COVID-19 closure

Zoo lays off 174 part-time, seasonal workers
WATCH LIVE: Fiona explores her outdoor habitat
Posted at 2:46 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 19:37:43-04

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Zoo officials are asking for help feeding and caring for its 2,000 animals in the wake of a financial blow dealt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Without revenue from admissions, events, parking, rides, sponsorships, donations, education programs and food/retail sales, the zoo will lose millions of dollars each month that it remains closed, zoo officials said.

The zoo is asking people to to renew their membership or purchase one as a gift as a way to help bridge the gap. Donations can be made through the Zoo's Emergency Operating Fund.

Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard said the zoo was forced to lay off 174 part-time and seasonal workers.

"All employees are part of the Zoo family, and losing them is the last thing we wanted to do," Maynard said. "People love this place and we will welcome them back to help us rebuild when we are able to do so."

Maynard said the zoo is trying to be creative by generating revenue in new ways.

The zoo team has started doing Home Safaris, live video chats that feature different zoo animals and keepers. The videos have had over 13.5 million views, and people who appreciate the content have donated.

But Maynard said there is an urgent need for resources to continue providing care to the animals and to maintain the facilities.

“This community has always supported the Zoo, but that support is more critical than ever,” Maynard said.