The closure of public spaces, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, led to interesting times for many businesses, including the San Antonio Zoo. In mid-March, the zoo closed to the public for several months to help prevent the coronavirus spread.
Unlike most other zoos in the country, the San Antonio Zoo is 100% dependent on guest visitation, grants, and donations to operate. Also, the San Antonio Zoo is not subsidized by the city, county, or state, which means they had a complete loss of income necessary to care for the animals.
During the shutdown, the zoo had to reduce expenses and, unfortunately, had to furlough over 60% of its staff. With the responsibility of animals in their care, a large portion of their dedicated team members continued to care for the zoo’s animals and infrastructure.
Zoo officials put their heads together and came up with a creative plan to make revenue. The zoo launched a Drive-Thru Zoo experience allowing homebound families a little reprieve from the lockdown. Families are now able to enjoy the world-class zoo from the comfort of their vehicles with a guided educational audio tour and curbside food and beverage options along the route.
While this unique experience allowed families a safe way to see the zoo and the zoo was able to continue to fund the care of the animals, there were still mounting expenses. The zoo then reached out to CPS Energy, a loyal supporter, to help them stay afloat.
“CPS Energy is a wonderful community partner who is always at the ready to lend their support,” said Tim Morrow, President & CEO of the San Antonio Zoo. “A recent example was allowing the zoo to defer 50% of our monthly energy payment during the COVID shutdown, which assisted us through closures and 100% loss of income.”
As part of our People First philosophy, CPS Energy is suspending energy disconnects for all its residential and commercial customers. This allows the community to focus on recovering from the pandemic. CPS Energy also started waiving late fees for those enrolled in company-sponsored assistance programs.
“The pandemic has changed everything, but our commitment to our customers is not new. In fact, this has become an even more important priority during the pandemic,” said Ramon Gonzales, Key Account Manager for CPS Energy. “The San Antonio Zoo is a lifetime partner, and we truly value them. The economy depends on all businesses to thrive. The pandemic has created challenges for our partners, but we are here for them and to turn those challenges into opportunities to serve them better.”
CPS Energy, the nation’s largest public power utility, has the highest commitment to customer service and its Guiding Pillars: Reliability, Customer Affordability, Safety, Security, Environmental Responsibility, and Resilience. As a public power company, CPS Energy is focused on strengthening the community by providing the best service, and being there for both residential and commercial customers, like the San Antonio Zoo, when they need us most.
With a little help and a lot of creativity, the San Antonio Zoo can continue their 106-year tradition of providing a world-class experience for San Antonians and visitors alike for generations to come.