No income, 2,000 mouths to feed: Lockdown squeezes Greek zoo
It’s feeding time at Greece’s only zoo, and a capuchin monkey grabs as many mandarins as it can — even tucking one into his long, supple tail. It might be wise to stock up.
After being closed for almost three months due to COVID-19, the zoo on the fringes of Athens could be on the road to extinction: With no paying visitors or — unlike other European zoos — enough government aid to cover its very particular needs, the Attica Zoological Park faces huge bills to keep 2,000 animals well-fed and healthy.
“As things are … we still can go on for at least one month,” zoo founder and CEO Jean Jacques Lesueur said. “After that, we don’t know.”
Unlike some businesses forced to temporarily close due to virus-control restrictions, the zoo continues to have sizeable operating expenses. Between food, salaries, utilities, medical care and other expenses, the cost of caring for the animals currently exceeds 200,000 euros ($243,000) per month.
“That’s the difference between us and other companies: When they close they close. We close, but we don’t close,” Lesueur told The Associated Press.
Founded in 2000 and located in the town of Spata, the zoo occupies 20 hectares (50 acres) and is home to 290 species, from elephants to prairie dogs. It’s involved in education, conservation and breeding, and belongs to the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, which has about 400 members.
Having to close again on Nov. 7 after Greece’s two-month spring lockdown came at a bad time for Attica Zoological Park. The zoo normally operates year-round but does a lot of its business during cooler weather “because in Greece people go to the beaches, to the islands, they don’t visit zoos” in the summer, the French-born Lesueur said…..read more
Source: AP News