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Coronavirus Impact: San Diego Zoo furloughs some of its workers

Posted at 12:37 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 15:37:42-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- With the San Diego Zoo and the Zoo’s Safari Park closed due to COVID-19, the revenue from visitors has disappeared, but the costs to care for the animals and plants inside both facilities have not.

On Monday, some Zoo visitor services employees and other positions not related to animal or plant care were furloughed. The two parks have about 3,800 employees.

A Zoo spokesperson told 10News their people "are like family" and they've decided for now not to disclose the exact number of workers who are off the job.

RELATED: Without guests, San Diego Zoo Safari Park sees more mountain lions

They confirmed that in 2018, the costs to care for the animals and exhibits was roughly $230 million, by far the biggest expense category. They took in about $250 million in admissions, memberships, food and merchandise sales that year.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the costs of animal care do not change.

The home page of the website now says, "Your support is more critical now than ever," and last week they launched a "critical needs campaign."

San Diego Zoo Global CEO and President Paul Baribault also said the organization is backing an effort by San Diego's congressional delegation to include zoos and aquariums in the next round of federal coronavirus aid.

RELATED: Lawmakers ask for San Diego Zoo stimulus relief

In previous interviews, Baribault said those still working are doing so in staggered shifts and they've been getting creative at finding ways to continue high standards of care while maintaining proper distancing.