“It’s not an issue of our desire to go on, it’s a matter of necessity,” Executive Director Danyelle Lantz told about 50 people, mostly zoo employees and supporters, at a forum at Pensacola Junior College‘s Milton campus Aug. 14.
The ZOO expects to collect about $1.85 million in revenue this year, well short of its $2.1 million budget. Lantz said The zoo hadn’t made July or August debt service payments and is struggling to make payroll. The Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council has made a one-time donation of $25,000 to meet immediate expenses. But if the Santa Rosa County Commission votes against supporting The ZOO at its next business meeting, Lantz expects the Gulf Coast Zoological Society board will meet soon after to determine when to close the gates.
“Without local government support, we cannot continue to operate,” Lantz said.
The second zoo town hall meeting will be at The ZOO Northwest Florida in the Boma Pavilion, beginning at 6 p.m. Aug. 21.
For more on this story, see the Aug. 21 issue of Navarre Press, or subscribe online.