Fresno Chaffee Zoo closed for over a month, officials share how they are managing

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FRESNO, California (KSEE) – The Fresno Chaffee Zoo has been closed for more than a month now, which means no money is coming in.

We spoke with zoo staff about how they are managing, including the animals.

There may not be any actual visitors at the zoo, but as you can see for the animals, they are eating. So, to them it’s business as usual.

It was a quiet day at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. The only foot traffic, rhinos, elephants and other four-legged friends.

For them, it’s just another day at the watering hole. “Maybe they’re not seeing as many people around but they’re getting fed, they’re on the same routines,” said Alisha Anderson, Chief Marketing and Development Officer for Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

But for the zoo itself, things have changed. Because of the ‘stay-at-order’, the zoo is closed. The gates are locked, concession stands are empty and there are no guests.

Anderson says for the zoo, spring is usually a busy time for them.

“In the spring when it’s days like this, normally this would be a 6,000 person day at the zoo, if it was a weekend, maybe 3,000 on a weekday in the spring,” she said.

Right now, Anderson says all revenue from events, the food court, retail and admissions have come to a halt, but Measure Z is helping to get them through. 

“The way it’s set up, two-thirds of it goes to capital improvements, but a third of it goes to operations, so once again Measure Z is helping us out, we’ll see if that changes due to the sales tax potentially going down with less sales this time of year when everything is closed,” Anderson said.

She says they were also able to secure a Paycheck Protective Program loan, so all employees are still getting paid. “It enables us to continue to pay payroll for a while and hopefully it’ll get us through until we reopen again,” Anderson said.

For now, Anderson says they are ‘bringing the Zoo to you’ with a virtual experience.

She says they will have some ‘behind the scenes’ with zookeepers and a tour of the dinosaur exhibit.

“Our educational team is working on a lot of distance learning and virtual lessons that are all posted on social media to help keep the kids who are stuck at home busy,” Anderson said.

Staff says they are looking forward to the day when they can finally reopen and have guests visit the animals.

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