Just like most businesses at this time, the Living Desert Zoo has been hit hard during the pandemic.
Despite a $3.5 million revenue loss and two-thirds of the staff laid off, the livelihood of the animals was an essential service, according to the Living Desert President Allen Monroe.
“Even though we were shut down and had some financial difficulties, we were able to dip into our bank accounts and borrow money and were able to keep all our animals here,” Monroe said. “We didn’t have any need to send any of our animals elsewhere.”
Monroe said small and large donations from the community also helped them out during a time that would have been their “peak season.”
“We really have a commitment to our 450 or so animal ambassadors who live at Living Desert to see and look after all their needs,” he said.
During the pandemic period, there has actually been a few additions to the zoo family.
“We’ve had several bighorn lambs that have been born up on the Big Horn Hill,” Monroe said. He also mentioned three little piglets and an endangered gazelle species baby.
In addition to the new animals, there is also a never-before-seen addition to the zoo itself called Australian Adventures. It’s a unique experience that takes you to the land down under without having to travel far.
The Living Desert opened Monday and was ready for customers with slight modifications. Some changes include one-way paths, face mask requirements and pre-sale tickets; promoting social distancing.
For safety, some of the smaller buildings are closed as well as the petting zoo, until further notice.
A staple in the desert for the last 50 years, the Living Desert said they’ve never been more appreciative of the community.
“We’re blessed to see the outpouring of support, donations small and large over the last two or three months that have helped us keep our animal care up and providing for all the things that we need here to keep the park going strong,” Monroe said.
Summer hours: Open daily, June 1- Sept. 30, from 7:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
More information: https://www.livingdesert.org/health/