SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Zoo Global announced it will begin furloughing some staff next week as the parks remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, the organization said "staff members who perform roles that have been significantly impacted" at both the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park would be furloughed starting April 20.
During the furlough, the organization will provide health benefits to those already receiving them.
"We value all of our team members, and we appreciate that our success over the years is due to their enthusiasm and dedication. San Diego Zoo Global expects to welcome furloughed staff back to work once our parks are able to reopen," a statement from San Diego Zoo Global said.
Zoo workers who provide essential care for wildlife and maintaining core functions at the park will not be furloughed.
The announcement comes the same day local Congressional representatives asked federal leaders to include the San Diego Zoo in the next round of stimulus relief for the country.
Reps. Susan Davis (CA-53), Scott Peters (CA-52), Juan Vargas (CA-51) and Mike Levin (CA-49) asked in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to include the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in upcoming relief legislation.
In the letter, the leaders say the zoo is "incurring significant expenses" while it continues to care for wildlife and plants without visitors.
“With this unprecedented closure, the zoo is still incurring significant expenses to care for its animals and plants, including many who are threatened or endangered, as well as those of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, without revenue to mitigate costs,” the members wrote. “During normal operations, San Diego Zoo Global’s (SDZG) economic impact is an estimated $1.7 billion annually, employing 3,000 Californians, and indirectly contributing to more than 14,000 jobs in San Diego.”
The zoo decided to close both parks last month, after the state issued stay at home orders and allowed only essential businesses to continue operating in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.