Denver Zoo creates virtual safari during pandemic

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Lion at the Denver Zoo

Lion at the Denver Zoo

DENVER (KDVR) — Like many other nonprofit organizations across Colorado, the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a huge toll on the Denver Zoo.

“We’re 124 years old,” explained Bert Vescolani, president and CEO of the zoo. “And even during the hardest financial times, nothing has ever been like this”.

The zoo closed its doors to the public on March 16. Since then, it has had to lay off and eliminate several positions. Members of the senior leadership team are also taking pay cuts.

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“We’ve had no revenue to offset the expenses to keep this facility [fully] operational,” Vescolani said.

During peak visitation periods, like spring break, 5,000-12,000 people would typically visit the zoo daily.

Without those visitors, the Denver Zoo is losing out on millions of dollars.

"We operate on about $120,000 a day on expenses,” Vescolani said. “It cost roughly $1 million a month to care for the animals”.

To keep its patrons connected to the animals during this difficult time, the Denver Zoo created a virtual safari called, "Zoo to You."

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