Kamloops's B.C. Wildlife Park to consider re-homing animals if park remains closed into summer - InfoNews

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Kamloops's B.C. Wildlife Park to consider re-homing animals if park remains closed into summer

FILE PHOTO: B.C. Wildlife Park
April 21, 2020 - 6:30 PM

Like most of us, the B.C. Wildlife Park in Kamloops is keeping a close eye on the calendar, its budget and announcements from B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry because unlike most of us, their grocery budget is about $10,000 per month.

That's what it costs to feed the animals. They're not quite in the same predicament as the Vancouver Aquarium, which announced last week it might have to shut down because of steep income losses from pandemic closures.

Glenn Grant, executive director at the park, says he thinks they'll be fine but if visitors aren’t allowed in by midsummer, that could change quickly.

“It’s not a concern of closing as of yet, it's not part of our long-term planning… Hopefully, we get some sort of opening during the summer and if we do, we should be okay,” Grant says. "If anything happened, all of the animals would be cared for, just not in Kamloops."

For now, he thinks the park will be able to stay afloat with half the staff, no new hires, and a hold on new projects. He says the business needs guests to operate, but can pay the bills in the meantime with a line of credit and an emergency fund.

“We did have a really good couple of years so we put some money away in reserves for a rainy day, we just didn’t think the rainy day would come so soon,” Grant says. “If we aren’t able to open by the summer then I’ll start to panic…. If we know we're not going to be open for the foreseeable future, we’ll have to make a secondary plan, a plan C so to speak.”

Grant says if the pandemic restrictions persist through the summer, they would consider further reducing staff and selling or loaning out the animals until they can take them back. He says it costs about $10,000 a month to feed and care for the animals and says that will remain a priority regardless of what happens.

“We’ve lost probably over 65 per cent of our revenue because most of our operating costs are recovered from gate admissions, revenue from the cafe, and the revenue from the gift shop,” Grant says. “We’ve got to try and figure out how to operate a $120,000 a month business with like $45,000.”

Grant says he is not yet worried that the B.C. Wildlife Park will face a similar fate as the Vancouver Aquarium, because animal care costs are much lower. Grant says the park qualifies for the 75 per cent emergency wage subsidy from the federal government which will help the zoo and may allow some of the 15 laid-off employees get back to work. So far, 15 staff still remain employed to care for the animals and grounds and create online educational content.

The park receives some funding from the City of Kamloops and from the province to help pay the wages of staff who promote educational material, but Grant says that is not enough.

He is asking the public to consider donating money or food for the animals. Click here to learn about what the park accepts or to make a monetary donation.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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