As coronacrisis shows no signs to end, Vietnam’s biggest zoo relies on donations. While visitor numbers slump during the lockdown, the national oldest zoo is cutting pay and growing fruit and vegetables to feed at least 1,400 animals, Reuters says.
The workers at Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Ho Chi Minh heavily rely on the donations to food the animals amidst the unexpected crisis. The more than 150-year-old zoo in Vietnam’s commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City confirms the deepest ever crisis.
Since March, the zoo, built in the French colonial era, has to meet running costs of about $10,700 a day and ensure more than 1,400 animals are fed.
“Since we don’t know when the pandemic will finally end, we are trying to diversify our revenue streams,” said Pham Van Tan, chief of the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
Normally, ticket sales make up most of the $5 million annual revenue but the lockdown made the zoo workers to looking for more donations. To help pay the bills, the zoo is now doing things such as growing flowers to sell to the public, designing gardens for homeowners and selling fertiliser to farmers, said Pham.
In addition, zoo staff have also taken 30 per cent salary cuts, and it is not the final figure because the coronacrisis shows no signs of ending soon. During a half a year of unclear perspectives, the zoo was growing nearly half of its food supplies on the city’s outskirts.
“We still ensure food supplies for the animals, but we try to provide them with seasonal food which is cost-effective,” said Pham.
Vietnam oldest zoo relies on fundraising and donations to survive
Zoo faced the toughest times in summer when visitor numbers have been slowing creeping back up to around 1,400 per day, but well below the 12,000 per day before the pandemic.
A recent fund-raising drive also raised more than $100,000 in just two days, while 25 tonnes of food have been donated for animals at the zoo, which has had to suspend plans to exchange animals for breeding internationally.
Zoo veterinarian Nguyen Baa Ph said some of the animals have been emboldened by having fewer people peering at them. Meanwhile, the Ho Chi Minh residents believe now it’s a good time to visit since there are not many people at the zoo.