Alaska Zoo doing what it can to keep the gates open

Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 8:48 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Businesses are having to do more with less during these times and while some are able to cut costs and close up, others don’t have that option.

”This is where we make 80 percent of our business in the summertime to get through the winter months,” said Alaska Zoo Executive Director Patrick Lampi.

Once the gates open at the Alaska Zoo, visitors both local and out of state usually pour in. Lampi said normally on a summer day, the zoo has roughly 200 non-resident adults coming to see the animals everyday. Now, because of the Coronavirus pandemic, that number is down to about 50.

“We’ve had summers that were rainy and thunderstorms, but nothing like this, nothing like this that’s kept the people away and especially the visitors from outside,” said Lampi.

Walking around, it’s a sign of the times. Visitors will notice social distancing signs, covered touch points, no playground and limited visitors and staff.

“We’ve have to make an adjustments, we still haven’t brought back staffing like we normally would be this time of year,” said Lampi.

Even with a reduction in staff, the zoo’s animals and their habitats still need to be cared for and zookeepers can’t just walk away and turn the lights out.

“Business has to go on, bills have to be paid, and people have to be paid. So we’re looking to for people to open up their hearts and help all the different non profits,” said Lampi.

The adjustment has also led to the zoo to look at ways to save and do more with less and one program that hasn’t been shut down is its week long summer camps.

Camp Coordinator Emily Miller said coming up with a mitigation plan was a bit challenging in the beginning.

“As soon as the summer started we knew we needed to start actually being able to provide something that our kids could come out and really get out of the house safely,” she said.

Now, the week long camps run smoothly and the Covid warriors as they call them are adapting.

“Although it can seem like a really stressful time right now the kids are so malleable and amazing at being able to keep the environment safe for themselves,” said Miller.

She added, just as much as kids enjoy watching the animals, the animals look forward to the interaction too.

Lampi added there’s been a little increase in zoo memberships.

“Everybody’s kind of in the same boat so pick your favorite charity and give a little deeper this year and go visit places,” he added.

As for the zoo’s summer camps, they’re for 6 to 12-year olds and offered through mid August.

Click here to learn more about the Alaska Zoo and camp registration.

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