Denver Zoo Struggles to Feed 3,000 Hungry Animals Under Their Care amid COVID-19 Pandemic

"Although we're open and welcoming guests to the zoo each day, we're still facing a significant deficit," said the zoo's CEO Bert Vescolani

Denver Zoo animals
Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty

The Denver Zoo is having a hard time providing enough food for their 3,000 resident animals amid revenue deficits due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Zoo officials at the Colorado facility, like many others across the country, are now asking the public for donations.

"It costs us about $100,000 per day to operate the zoo, and $1 million per month on animal care alone. Although we’re open and welcoming guests to the zoo each day, we’re still facing a significant deficit," Bert Vescolani, president and CEO of the zoo, said to the Associated Press.

Denver Zoo animals
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty

According to The Denver Channel, the zoo is down nearly $10 million in revenue this year compared to last after temporarily closing early on in the pandemic. The zoo later reopened with strict safety guidelines in June but had to cut back on different programs in order to be able to care for the animals.

"We cut back on our education efforts, we cut back on our international conservation efforts, we cut back on our capital projects. We would shut other things down, we would make other changes, we would do so much more before it ever got to that (cutting down on food expenditures for the animals)," Vescolani told the outlet.

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Denver Zoo animals
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty

Jason Williams, the director of nutrition services at the Denver Zoo, noted that "food is not cheap," and said that the zoo goes through about 400 tons a year.

"We go above and beyond here most of the time when it comes to the level of specificity when it comes to how we feed the animals," Williams said.

The AP reported that the Denver Zoo makes a conscious effort to feed its animals with locally sourced food and that the zoo's nutritionists create a comprehensive meal plan for all of the residents to make sure they are receiving proper care and nutrients.

Anyone looking to support the zoo through this difficult time can donate through the Denver Zoo's website.

"This is too important to our community. It’s a critical part of the culture of Denver and the Denver metro area," Vescolani told The Denver Channel.

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