Minnesota Zoo Facing Possible Closure Without Funding From The State
Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday during a news conference that the Minnesota Zoo is on the brink of closure without help that's been requested as part of his bonding bill. Walz went on to say that the zoo is at the point where they’re going to have to move animals and close if we don’t do something. He said the Zoo is a treasure for Minnesota and thinks it makes sense to preserve and the state should help this session.
Minnesota Zoo director John Frawley told the committee the pandemic hit at one of the busiest times of the year for the zoo. According to KARE11 Frawley said " The timing was also hard on the zoo, as that's our peak season going into the spring and into the summer. Our anticipated losses are going to be $6.3 million ... plus we've used all of our reserves and any dollars we had on our books. As of the end of June, we'll have depleted all of the resources at the zoo."
Funding is already under discussion in the special session and the committee approved an amendment adding $6 million in funding support for the zoo. The zoo depends on two-thirds of its total budget (from) gate fees and donations which they lost by having to close within the first week of COVID-19 Pandemic.
Minnesota Zoo CFO Abigail Mosher said to KARE 11 " as a state agency, the zoo is not eligible for federal stimulus support, like the Paycheck Protection Program. The financial impact of the pandemic has already led to layoffs at the Minnesota Zoo. In May, the zoo announced it was eliminating 125 positions, including 48 employee layoffs and suspension of seasonal hiring."
The Zoo has actively been working on phased reopening plans, but no date has been set as of yet.