Care during closure.
When we closed the zoo gates in March to help slow the spread of COVID-19, we weren’t sure what the future held. In an instant, the zoo lost $8.5 million in revenue — funds normally earned through admissions, events and sales. We had planned for the future. We had reserves in place, but nobody was prepared for this level of catastrophic effect.
The call from Oregon Zoo Foundation went out, letting our community know the zoo was in trouble. People from all over the world responded, from 462 cities in 49 states and 6 countries. The biggest amount of support came from Oregon and SW Washington, where zoo experiences have inspired generations of visitors, much like the Douglas firs and mossy trails that define the region.
Jacob, age 5, gave his allowance so we could “buy more food for the animals, especially the lions,” (Jacob’s mom gave a little extra too). People sent us notes and photos of their favorite animals. Donors gave; members renewed.
The zoo was closed for 117 days, but live-streamed events and at-home activities helped people connect with the animals they love. Informative and lighthearted videos reached over 40 million people via social media, helping the zoo earn international attention during a critical fundraising time, and giving us all something to smile about.
Most importantly, the visionary care your zoo is known for continued, even in the midst of great uncertainty.
Humboldt penguins, Nacho and Goat, took up hiking in the forest with their keepers. Flamingos and African crested porcupines took walks across an empty concert lawn. Black bear Takoda celebrated the arrival of spring with a big splash in his tub, and Pabu the red panda was born. Keepers answered questions from children around the world — perhaps inspiring the next generation of animal-care professionals and conservation heroes.
Although we were apart, together we were all a part of the animals’ well-being.