San Antonio Zoo losing $500,000 a week due to closure during COVID-19 pandemic

Zoo says it is 100% dependent on sales, donations, grants

Photo: Brian Carter/San Antonio Zoo

SAN ANTONIO – It hasn’t even been a month since the coronavirus pandemic has kept animal enthusiasts (and their money) away from the San Antonio Zoo, but the nonprofit is already reeling from the sudden financial blow.

The zoo closed its doors to the public in late March, ushering in a predicament it has never seen before: the complete loss of ticket sales and guest spending for a prolonged period of time.

Jennifer Pue, director of public relations and integrated marketing, told that the zoo is dependent on revenue from visitors, donations and grants.

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With the zoo closed, she said, it is losing about $500,000 in revenue per week.

Pue said the zoo generates about $2 million a month when it is open, and it needs about the same amount of money to operate.

“It takes an average of about $75,000 a day to operate the zoo,” she said. “Without operating income from visitors buying tickets and spending money at the zoo, we have now become 100% dependent on donations/grants, and any governmental assistance we are able to acquire to ensure we are still here for San Antonio when this pandemic is over."

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As a result of the loss of funds, the zoo announced on March 20 that a majority of staff members would be furloughed.

CEO Tim Morrow on Tuesday asked the community to donate to the emergency fund, which funds essential operations and animal care.

“Now, more than ever in our 100-year history, we need help," he said in a news release.

The San Antonio Zoo is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It has about 750 species among the 50-plus acres. For information about how to donate, click here.

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:

Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.