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Hogle Zoo lays off more than 25% of staff due to COVID-19

(Photo credit: Hogle Zoo)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Hogle Zoo announced it had to lay off about 27% of its staff because of financial difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes as the zoo predicts revenue to fall 40-50% this year.

The zoo reported it laid off 20 full-time employees, furloughed four full-time employees and left 13 additional positions unfilled. 

“We thank those affected employees for their years of service to the Zoo and helping to make it one of the most popular destinations in Utah,” the zoo said in a statement. “We also thank those employees who are still employed for helping to make it through this extremely difficult time.”

Utah’s Hogle Zoo closed for a total of 47 days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which zoo employees say led to this decision. Despite the zoo reopening May 2, the establishment is only admitting 50% of its usual capacity — contributing to the lower revenue. 

This summer season is usually the busiest time of the year for the Hogle Zoo, which is causing a disproportionately higher impact. 

However, the zoo reassured guests the animals will still be properly cared for — keeping most of the animal care staff intact.  

“We still have an excellent staff in place,” the zoo wrote. “We will make adjustments to our program, but the animals will still receive excellent care.”

As of right now, the Hogle Zoo will attempt to keep as many parts of the zoo functioning as they can. 

The zoo said it doesn’t currently have plans for rehiring its laid off staff, as it is looking ahead to further financial impacts during the winter — which has higher expenses than the summer — before making any plans. Decisions on rehiring furloughed staff will be determined later.