Utica Zoo Facing ‘Dire’ and ‘Absolutely Devastating’ $1 Million Budget Shortfall
The Utica Zoo is facing a 1 million dollar shortfall as a result of pandemic-related closures and restrictions.
The Utica Zoo, which has served the region for over 100 years, has been hit hard by COVID-19. The zoo was forced to close for 107 days, and then, even when it zoo was allowed to re-open, capacity limitations forced the zoo to keep attendance to 33% of capacity, or around 500 people per day.
Andria Heath, the zoo's Executive Director, tells the Observer-Dispatch these challenges have led to a $1 million shortfall in their $2.2 million budget.
Heath says it's not just the closure and the decrease in attendance that hurt the zoo, but losses that come from cancelled events and revenue generated by visitors, like food vendors, and feed machines.
The zoo has taken steps to cut expenses as much as possible, but, as they head into the cold winter months, they still have to care for their animals and pay their zookeepers and staff.
In a Facebook post, the Zoo says they have received incredible support from the community, but the situation is "dire". "Looking at a 7 figure shortfall in our budget has been absolutely devastating."