The Oakland Zoo, closed since March, may have to close for good if its not allowed to reopen soon, zoo officials said.
Oakland Zoo CEO Joel Parrott said that it costs $2.5 million per month to operate the facility and to care for the more than 700 animals. The Federal Paycheck Protection Program money has been spent, and the situation is dire.
“We are living on our reserves and we only have about three months of reserves left,” Parrott said.
All he really wants is for the zoo to be allowed to reopen, but he said in order for that to happen county public health officials will need to reclassify the zoo.
“Outdoor museums have been authorized to open,” Parrott said. “And that’s in Stage Two, which is allowed, but the state has placed zoos in Stage Three.”
NBC Bay Area’s attempts to contact county officials after hours were unsuccessful.
The Llamas family, who live near the zoo, have personal ties. Both parents worked there as teens, and they like to take their children to visit.
“It’s creating memories, it was a part of our childhood,” said Ana Llamas. “Allowing them to experience it with us is very nice, but if it’s taken away that’s very unfortunate.”
Zoo officials say they have solid social distancing plans for reopening. And if county officials are looking for another plan, they can ask Raymond Llamas.
“There’s plenty of space to self distance and stay away from everybody, so I would think it would be okay to do that,” he said. “Close down the food court and the rides and open up the zoo portion.”
Parrott said that if his non-profit that operates the zoo goes under, the facility would then revert to management by the City of Oakland.