Dutch zoos in serious trouble as coronavirus rules hit ticket sales

A large rhinoceros stands with several zebras on a hill in a zoo in Emmen, Netherlands
A large rhinoceros on a hill in a zoo in Emmen. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Another year of falling revenues because of coronavirus could put many zoos out of business, the national association of zoos NVD has warned.

A number of the 13 big zoos in the Netherlands, Artis and Blijdorp among them, are non-profit foundations which means they have few financial reserves. Coronavirus has cost them some €150m in revenue, of which €40m will be borne by the zoos themselves through cut backs and redundancies ,while €39m will come from the agriculture ministry. Zoos are hoping local councils will come up with the rest.

‘We have been forced to reorganise’, NVD chairman Erik Zevenbergen told Nu.nl. ‘But we are not out of the woods, and zoos too can fail.’

Zevenbergen is director of Blijdorp zoo which has been given a bridging loan by Rotterdam council. ‘We (Blijdorp) are postponing investments in new accommodation and we will have to let go 40 to 50 zoo workers out of a staff of 180,’ he said.

Animal feed is another major cost facing zoos. ‘We will, of course, not skimp on that but maintenance has been scaled back completely. We’re not doing anything unless things start to collapse,’ Zevenbergen said.

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