Oakland Zoo launches livestream for animal lovers during COVID-19 isolation

The Oakland Zoo launched a subscription service Thursday to give people at home a behind the scenes look at animals with their keepers.

CEO Joel Parrott said the livestream subscription service, called “Behind the Scenes Live,” is a new way of connecting with guests. The service kicked off with a look at the giraffe exhibit.

“Since the visitors can’t come to the zoo, with the zoo being closed and everyone on lockdown, we bring the zoo to them,” Parrott said.

The subscription service costs $15 a month. Zoo members pay $10 and get the first 30 days for free. It will feature a different animal every weekday at 2:30 p.m.

“It will give you a good chance to learn about the animals, visit the animals, and also you get a chance to ask questions from the keepers themselves,” Parrott said. “What it will do us is to allow us to raise some money for the zoo to get through this period.”

Revenue from admissions, restaurants, and donors make up a little more than 90% of the zoo’s operating budget, but the zoo has been closed since mid-March due to COVID-19. Parrott hopes “Behind the Scenes Live” will help offset layoffs. The zoo made the first round of layoffs on Wednesday.

“We had to let go 110 part-time, seasonal employees,” he said. “Meanwhile everybody else from me on down has gone to three day work weeks.”

Parrott said the animals at the zoo don’t really have a clue that anything is different other than the pathways are empty. But you can definitely still see them from the comfort of your home until the zoo reopens again.

For more information visit: https://www.oaklandzoo.org/