San Antonio Zoo forced to furlough majority of staff members due to closure

Zoo Train, Starbucks to continue operating with new procedures

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Zoo announced Friday it was forced to furlough a majority of staff members.

The zoo and Kiddie Park announced they were closing through March 20 last week due to coronavirus concerns, but since then, leaders have imposed declarations forcing the closure of nonessential businesses for at least the next 30 days.

“As a nonprofit cultural institution, San Antonio Zoo is entirely dependent on visitation, grants, and donations to operate. The current situation does not allow for the zoo to generate the income needed to fund its fully operational staffing model,” the zoo said in a news release.

The Zoo Train and Starbucks will continue to operate in Brackenridge Park with new social distancing procedures, zoo officials said. Those procedures include making all Starbucks orders to go and closing every other row on the Zoo Train, which operates from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“With our gates closed for the health and wellness of our team and community, the zoo is unable to generate revenue to cover expenses such as labor outside of essential personnel. Critical animal care, infrastructure, safety and security staff continue to work on the grounds to care for our animals and the zoo—other employees who can are working from home,” said Tim Morrow, president and CEO of the San Antonio Zoological Society, in a statement.

“Our zoo crew is our family, and we are assisting everyone affected to obtain governmental assistance and or other jobs within our community. We look forward to brighter days ahead and welcoming our team and guests back to the zoo once we can reopen to the public. At this time, we are asking for donations to assist us in the essential operations and animal care at,” Morrow said.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.


About the Author:

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and includes covering breaking news of the day, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" and "KSAT Money" series.