Wisconsin zoos still closed, accepting donations from the public

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RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin’s zoos have been closed since mid-March under the Stay at Home order.

“We want to open those doors and get everybody here,” Beth Heidorn, Racine Zoo Executive Director, said.

The Racine Zoo says not bringing in any revenue has been a challenge.

“It’s been really hard because now is the time that we’d be making money with school groups, field trips, and spring break camps,” Heidorn said.

The Milwaukee County Zoo has put a freeze on hiring and spending.

“Work hours have been reduced, we’re managing to keep most of our employees on in some capacity,” Chuck Wikenhauser, Milwaukee County Zoo Director, said.

At both zoos, the level of care for the animals hasn’t changed.

“We are making diets every day, we are cleaning exhibit spaces every day, we’re giving animals enrichment so that they stay mentally alert,” Heidorn said.

Taking care of the animals comes at a cost, whether or not guests are visiting the zoo. The Milwaukee County Zoo is accepting monetary donations that will all go towards the care of the animals.

The Racine Zoo is participating in Giving Tuesday on May 5. Every donated dollar up to $5,000 will be matched by the RUUD Family Foundation.

With no visitors at the zoo right now, some of the animals miss seeing their people friends.

“It’s quite quiet there for them,” Wikenhauser said. “I think there are some animals that really enjoy interacting with the public.”

With some state parks being allowed to reopen on Friday, zoos are hopeful that they may be able to welcome guests back soon.

“With our setting we have over 680-thousand square feet of plazas and walkways so I think allowing us to open would be something that we could accommodate and still keep people safe,” Wikenhauser said.

“People can be outside here at the Racine Zoo, easily social distance themselves,” Heidorn said. “We are a park, we just happen to have cool animals here. We really believe we should be able to open.”

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