NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A once thriving zoo has been crippled by the ripple effects of the unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic. Nashville Zoo has been welcoming visitors for almost 30 years, but amid the pandemic, they were forced to shut down for three months only reopening at 50% capacity.
“What makes the zoo business unique is that we can’t just close our doors and turn off our lights and save as much as we possibly can,” said Rick Schwartz, CEO.
Nashville Zoo cares for 3,000 animals daily. It cost about $836,000 a month to maintain the zoo collection while it was closed.
Despite the financial struggles, zoo staff continued to provide care and services to the animals. “We didn’t stop. Nothing stopped us while we were closed down,” said Dr. Heather Schwartz, Head Veterinarian.
Mr. Schwartz said the zoo did see some “bright spots” during the dark time, “Like a boom in kangaroo births; also we won for the second year in a row the top exhibit in the country award for zoos and aquariums.”
Thousands of people from all over the world have come to see the zoo’s award-winning exhibits; participate in hands on experiences; marvel at endangered species.
“The truth of the matter is, we have an insurmountable amount of money to make up because of the loss of capacity this year,” Schwartz explained. “We are anticipating a 5-million-dollar loss this year, and we just can’t do that without your support.”
Thursday Nashville celebrities joined to provide support for the zoo with musical performances and appearances by Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Amy Grant and Scott Hamilton.
“It’s a world classy city, and it actually deserves a world class zoo,” Schwartz added.
From Nashville Zoo with Love, presented by News 2 was the zoo’s first virtual fundraiser of the year. The goal was to raise $500,000.
Generous givers were also given the chance to participate in a live online auction that ends 1pm October 9, 2020.
Some of the items up for bid include a meet & greet with Winsol the anteater or Fern the sloth or Neo the cassowary. Additionally, you can bid on a Taylor Swift signed guitar, an art session with kangaroos, and much more.
Schwartz pleaded, “We truly need your help now more than ever. Whether you make a general donation, or bid on a silent online auction, or support one of our specific animal needs, your help means the world to us.”
To give to the Nashville Zoo’s fundraiser, Click Here.