Topeka Zoo looking at big fundraising gap due to coronavirus pandemic

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Topeka Zoo is looking at a massive fundraising gap after two of its biggest fundraisers were derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Brew at the Zoo” was postponed from earlier this summer to this Saturday before it was eventually cancelled altogether. The fundraiser was expected to bring in $60,000. In April, “Roar and Pour” was moved online and brought in less than half of its fundraising goal.

The Topeka Zoo is funded by both the city of Topeka and the Friends of the Topeka Zoo. The city funds things like taking care of the animals, plants and maintaining the grounds. FOTZ takes care of things like guest services, events, season exhibits and activities.

Zoo Director Brendan Wiley said the city’s budget for the zoo has been flat for 10 years and FOTZ is how they’ve been able to grow.

“Over that same period of time, we’ve gone from an annual attendance of 111,000 people to 224,000 people,” Wiley said. “We’ve added experiences. We’ve added new major exhibits.”

Wiley said they are currently working on two plans for next year. One plan for if the pandemic continues on its current course. Another plan for if things go back to normal.

They don’t currently expect any major changes to the zoo, although Wiley said they are looking for places to save money. He said they have started only opening concession stands on days when they anticipate it will be busy, in the hopes of saving money.

Wiley said the Friends of the Topeka Zoo is working on new fundraising ideas that should be rolled out by the end of the year.

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