San Diego Zoo seeks federal COVID-19 funds

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – One of San Diego’s most beloved landmarks is asking for help from Congress. The San Diego Zoo has said it needs federal funds to make sure the Zoo can thrive into the future.

Like businesses around the nation, most cultural institutions have also struggled to maintain a footing during the pandemic.

But to date, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park have not collected any federal dollars to support the care of their animals. Zoo Director Dwight Scott said he’s asking for congressional help for the cash strapped cultural attractions.

Scott said he’s seeking relief in the form of forgivable loans through the Main Street Lending Program or for money provided by the federal Paycheck Protection Program. In the first round of PPP payments, mid-size and larger non-profits with more than 500 employees were excluded.

Scott said he’s working with San Diego’s congressional leaders to revise the PPP language so that larger non-profits like the Zoo can qualify.  He pointed to the Zoo’s importance to the local economy.

“Our previous number for economic impact is $1.7 billion that we’ve put into the San Diego community. We want to manage this crisis in such a way that when we come through this crisis, we’re still at that same level of contribution to society,” Scott said.

So far, the Zoo has relied on reserves to meet its expenses. Yet without additional money to support its programs and operations, Scott said other options may be considered, suggesting that the San Diego Zoo in the future may not be the same place that has enthralled and educated millions of visitors each year.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local San Diego News