Oakland Zoo says it's losing $2.5 million a month, at risk of permanently closing

An Oakland Zoo spokeswoman says they've been hard hit by the pandemic and are losing $2.5 million a month since the COVID-19 closures. Now they are sounding the alarm that the closure could be permanent. 

The zoo has been closed since March 16 and is now asking Alameda County to reclassify it as an outdoor museum in order to reopen. 

The zoo has been a part of the city for 98 years and is now looking for the community's support to stay open.

Dr. Joel Parrott, the zoo's president and CEO, joined KTVU's The Four to talk about their dire situation. Dr. Parrott said that initially the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program loan helped and allowed them to not layoff any staff. 

But now three and a half months later, those funds have dried up and the zoo is looking for additional assistance whether it be from the city, county, state or federal government.

But he really wants to reopen as an outdoor museum under Alameda County's health guidelines for the pandemic. 

"We've really scaled things back to protect the public," Parrott said. He added that the conditions of being spread out, outdoors wearing masks with families or small familiar groups of friends would be relatively safe when it comes to spreading the disease. 

Parrott expressed concern as to why zoos were placed in California's Phase 3 of the reopening plan when outdoor museums were placed in Phase 2. He said Oakland Zoo could provide a similar outdoor museum experience in a safe manner. 

In the meantime, the zoo is surviving on cash reserves and estimates they have about three months left under their current situation. 

Donations can be made through their website: www.oaklandzoo.org