Utah’s Hogle Zoo lays off 27 percent of staff due to financial impact of COVID-19

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah’s Hogle Zoo said they had to lay off and furlough some employees due to financial constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

20 full-time employeees were layed off and four employees were furloughed leaving about 13 unfilled positions, a 27% reduction to their overall work force, according to Zoo officials.

Related: Survey shows Salt Lake County resident concerns about engaging with businesses during COVID-19

Zoo officials said they took this action because they were closed for 47 days due to the coronavirus which caused a huge financial contraint on the zoo. Additionally, when they reopened they were only able to welcome 50% of their normal number of guest. Because this happened during the busiest time of the year, zoo officials say it had a disproportinatly higher impact on the zoo and its revenue streams.

Zoo officials said they are not able to operate the train and carousel and are unable to offer animal feedings, hold educational programs, provide for corporate picnics and they have diminished revenue from food and gift sales.

They have also been impacted by a loss of revenue from the county’s ZAP tax program. Overall, Zoo officials say they project revenue to be down by 40-50% this year.

Even though the zoo received money from the federal government’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP), zoo officials say those funds have already been expended.

Despite the difficulties the zoo is experiencing they said the animals will still be well cared for. The empl0yee layoffs were made accross the organization, including animal care but zoo officials said the animal care staff was not disproportionately affected.

Many parts of the zoo are still functioning. They added that guest will still recieve a high quality and safe experience but they will suspend some onsite and offsite programs.

The zoo said they have no plans to rehire employees that have been laid off but those who were furloughed may be rehired depending on the state’s decision on how to proceed with the iSEE program.

Even though the zoo has a rainy day fund, they said the financial impact of the pandemic makes it insufficients for their needs.

Those who would like to help the zoo through this difficult time may contact Lori Piscopo at lpiscopo@hoglezoo.org.

You can read a detailed account of the layoffs on the Hogle Zoo Facebook Page.

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