SAINT PAUL – Sen. Greg Clausen (DFL – Apple Valley) is pleased to announce Gov. Walz has issued an Executive Order to provide $6 million to the Minnesota Zoo to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, Sen. Clausen released the following statement:
“The Minnesota Zoo is on the brink of closing without financial help from the state. I was hopeful we could take care of their operating expenses during the regular and special sessions, but that didn’t happen. That is why I am thrilled the Governor has issued an Executive Order to provide $6 million in funding to maintain operations at the Minnesota Zoo during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Zoo relies on gate fees and donations for two-thirds of its total budget. This revenue was completely lost when they had to close in the first weeks of the COVID-19 crisis to protect their staff, the animals, and Zoo visitors.
This funding is critical to ensure animal care and to maintain the facilities and equipment. Unfortunately, the Zoo was not eligible for the federal paycheck protection program, lines of credit, or many other tools used by businesses and nonprofits to weather this crisis. So, this funding is critical to help the Zoo transition during their phased reopening plans while meeting social distancing guidelines.
I am grateful to the Governor that he is recognizing the importance of the Minnesota Zoo and doing what he can to protect this critical state asset. With 1.3 million visitors annually, serving as the home to more than 5,000 animals, and contributing $230 million gross economic output to the state, the Minnesota Zoo is a major contributor to our quality of life and serves as an educational resource.”