When COVID-19 forced Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens to close its gates for two months, the nonprofit lost critical revenue during its busiest months. The Zoo is now asking for the community’s help to recover through the ZOO-A-THON, which aims to raise $250,000 in donations by Sunday.
“Many people are surprised to learn how expensive it is to maintain our day-to-day operations, even after we closed to the public on March 14. We still had to feed and care for our animals daily, as well as employ the dedicated staff who worked through our closure. We were closed during our busiest season and we’re still feeling the effects, even after reopening, because our attendance has averaged less than half of what we usually see,” said Executive Director Tony Vecchio.
Those looking to support can text ZOO to (904) 560-5600 or donate online at JacksonvilleZoo.org/ZOO-A-THON. Every donation will go directly to operating costs, including the care of more than 2,000 animals and 1,000 plants. The donor who contributes the most amount will receive naming rights to the mandrill infant born on Aug. 1 and will be announced Sunday during the one-hour finale on WJXT Channel 4 at 6:30 p.m. The show will be live from Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes stories and content.
“We’re grateful for the support from the City of Jacksonville and the many guests who have visited us since our reopening, but there’s still a long way to go. We hope we can meet our goal of $250,000 to help carry us through the remainder of the year, while also continuing to deliver needed education and conservation resources to our community,” said Vecchio.
For over 100 years, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has aimed to inspire the discovery and appreciation of wildlife through innovative experiences in a caring environment. Starting in 1914 with an animal collection of one red deer fawn, the Zoo now has more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 species of plants, boasting the largest botanical garden in Northeast Florida. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is a nonprofit organization and a portion of every ticket sold goes to the over 45 conservation initiatives Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports around the world, and here in NE Florida. JZG is proud to be an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. For more information, visit jacksonvillezoo.org.