SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Zoos are one of the sectors that are forced to close under Southern California's new regional stay-at-home order that went into effect this week.
The Santa Barbara Zoo will once again close to the public, as it did for three months when the pandemic began in March.
"Our animals will notice that things are quiet for a while again," said Dr. Julie Barnes, the zoo's vice president of Animal Care and Health. "We managed to make it through the first shutdown... we were really hoping not to find ourselves in this position again."
The zoo's animals will continue to be cared for by staff members during the shutdown, which will last for at least three weeks. Construction on a new exhibit will also continue.
The loss of revenue from guests during this stretch will take a toll on the zoo financially, however. Barnes says it costs more than $600,000 a month to maintain the current essential operations. Much of that investment goes toward feeding 500 animals each day.
“Right now we’re relying on cash reserves and the support of our community to continue to operate,” Barnes said.
While the zoo is closed, community members can still show support through buying memberships as holiday gifts, donating, or shopping on the zoo's website. They can also continue to follow the zoo's active social media accounts.
To donate to the zoo's Emergency Operations Fund, click here.
While the zoo is closed, outdoor educational programs can carry on during the shutdown. Georgia Clay is grateful that her three-year-old son's program at the zoo will continue.
“They do walks around the zoo, and then they do different topics in science like sustainability, ecosystems, stuff like that,” Clay said. “He’s really young, so he picks up what he can. He mostly loves the animals.
“It’s amazing because I’m working and home-schooling my older son. And to have my little one be able to spend the morning at the zoo just frees up time for me to work… and maintain some sense of normalcy.”