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Without Income, Saigon Zoo Requests VND30bn in Financial Support From City Authorities

Taking care of its plants and animals costs the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens VND3–4 billion (US$132,000–176,000) a month, while no income has been generated since May.

On September 22, Zoo Director Phạm Văn Tân formally requested the city's assistance in the form of VND30 billion (US$1.3 million) to cover costs through the remainder of 2021. Without such assistance, they will be forced to borrow money via other channels.

According to Tân, zoo management estimated that they would need VND45.7 billion to operate from July until December. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the zoo has undertaken austerity measures to reduce running costs, though, without any income, the financial situation is dire.

When the first wave of the virus struck the city last year, the zoo was forced to shut its doors for several months. The extended closure resulted in a reported loss of VND6.8 billion (US$304,300) for 2020.

In response to the hardships that began last year, more than 300 employees volunteered to reduce their salary by 30% starting in August 2020. Moreover, the zoo launched a successful call for online donations that was greeted with enthusiasm from Saigoneers. It raised more than US$100,000 in two days, in addition to 25 tons of donated food for the animals. The zoo also increased its ticket prices from VND50,000 to VND60,000 during the period between outbreak waves and began selling a variety of plants and flowers to offset costs.

Founded in 1867, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical gardens is one of the oldest zoos in the world. For the majority of its existence, it has been self-sustaining via ticket sales. It was closed in May 2021 as part of social distancing efforts, however, which has put its books in the red for the second consecutive year.

While the zoo has experienced some celebration-worthy moments in the last year, such as the birth of a baby giraffe, its ability to exchange animals with other zoos or take a role in rehabilitation and conservation efforts has been severely hampered. 

As of now, the Saigon Zoo confirmed with Saigoneer via a Facebook message that it isn't officially seeking financial support from the public apart from the official request to the city, although some unofficial calls have circulated on social media in recent days.

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