More Pandemic Hurt: Oakland Zoo Faces Closure

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 16: A grizzly bear swims in a pool at the Oakland Zoo on April 16, 2020 in Oakland, California.
Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There's another possible casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

The beloved Oakland Zoo is at risk of permanent closure unless they can get enough funds to reopen. The zoo - along with countless Bay Area businesses - has been closed since mid-March. It's lost $2.5 million each month of the closure.

"It’s a challenge," Dr. Joel Parrott, President and CEO of the Oakland Zoo. "We have our deepest sympathies for the entire community for what we’re all going through, but we’re going through it too and we’re facing challenges that are really existential for us to go forward in the coming months."

The zoo also faced possible closure in 1985.

Dr. Parrott said in that case, the zoo and the City of Oakland weren’t able to come up with the necessary funding for the facility because of a flawed contract.

Zoo officials have argued their business could be interpreted as an outdoor museum, which were allowed to reopen on June 19.

"We’ve got the science behind it that the zoo can open safely, because the science is showing that the transmission is from people indoors, large groups for long periods of time," Dr. Parrott said. "The zoo is more like East Bay Regional Parks. We’re outdoors, they’re in family groups and they only briefly pass other people."

Dr. Parrott thinks the zoo can be a very safe place, provided people wear masks and exercise social distancing.

He joined KCBS Radio’s Jeff Bell and Patti Reising to discuss the zoo’s struggle.

Listen to the full interview below.