Racine Zoo facing dire financial straits, hopes "Giving Tuesday Now" brings help

Posted at 8:53 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 23:24:10-04

RACINE — A longtime community staple, the Racine Zoo, is critically low on funds. The non-profit has to run at full staff because, except for missing visitors and events, the animals still need all the same care, despite a pandemic.

"Just because the zoo is closed doesn't mean they don't need to get fed, their exhibit don't need to be cleaned, they don't need enrichment, the vet doesn't show up. All of that still happens," said Beth Heidorn, executive director of the Racine Zoo.

Life continues to march on at the Racine Zoo. Just last week, the zoo welcomed two new monkeys.

"Mother Nature always finds a way, we were so fortunate to have twin baby tamarins born here on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day," said Heidorn.

But the zoo is facing serious financial struggles. School field trips and spring break visitors account for a significant chunk of revenue at the non-profit. Since it shut down on March 14th through April 29th, the zoo lost $180,000. In May, it will lose another $150,000. The losses total $330,000.

The zoo said it received the government's Payment Protection Loan, but it only covers staffing and only for eight weeks.

"It doesn't necessarily feed the animals and all of that stuff," said Heidorn. "We are making sure we are doing that with a will and a prayer."

Zoo workers remain hopeful that help is on the way. The global campaign "Giving Tuesday" is asking people to help during the pandemic by organizing "Giving Tuesday Now" next week. Three area businesses have promised to donate to the zoo if it can get additional help from the community.

"There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to got to get there," said Heidorn.

Giving Tuesday Now is on May 5th. The Racine zoo needs to raise $5,000 to get the matching donations on that day. You can donate on their site here.

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