ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — A record weekend for visitors at the Abilene Zoo is helping them make up for losses suffered due to COVID-19 and the February freeze.
Zoo officials say they saw a record of more than 250,000 visitors on Labor Day weekend.
“We’re incredibly thankful,” said Development Manager Stephanie Delagarza.
The zoo was closed for two months due to COVID-19 and the February freeze.
“So not having that revenue for those two months created a massive impact on the zoo,” said Delagarza.
Delagarza says they lost nearly $800,000.
“Every dollar that is spent out here stays out here, and that’s what gives us the funds to operate the zoo, to care for the animals, to provide their food and that sort of thing,” said Delagarza.
The zoo was able to raise about 20% of the deficit.
“Between that and the support from the community, we have really been able to bounce back,” said Delagarza.
Delagarza says it’s really the tourists that helped recoup all their losses.
“It’s something special that Abilene has, you know, and we don’t want to lose this attraction,” said Abilene resident Debbie Smith.
Smith says it was important for her family to keep supporting the zoo.
“Life is short, you need to take advantage of the opportunities that you have to spend with your kiddos and your grandbabies, which is the best part of life,” said Smith.
About 47% of the visitors were from out of the area by at least 30 miles, coming from places such as San Angelo, Brownwood, Lubbock, Midland, and Odessa.
“Our year ends at the end of September, so we’re excited to see what our final numbers are going to be,” said Delagarza.