Binder Park Zoo navigating coronavirus closure challenges

NEWTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The pandemic has caused challenges for local zoos that rely on ticket sales to help fund operations.

Binder Park Zoo near Battle Creek was supposed to open April 16, but restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus have delayed when visitors can return.

Leslie Walsh, the manager of marketing and development at Binder Park Zoo, said the staff is waiting to reopen when it is safe and when state regulations allow.

“We need to be open. We want guests in the park to enjoy this space,” Walsh said.

Binder Park is a nonprofit and, unlike most other zoos, does not receive funding from local taxes, making ticket sales even more crucial.

“Every day that our gate is not open, that’s revenue that’s lost,” Walsh said.

If you are missing the animals, the zoo has installed a new camera that streams video on its website as a way for people to stay connected.

Binder Park has been getting donations since the coronavirus closures began, which has been helpful.

“We’ve had a lot of people reach out to us and ask how they can help, what they can do to help support us,” Walsh said.

The park is also extending the duration of each membership by the amount of time the zoo is closed as a result of the stay-at-home order.

“We’ve already lost a lot and I think our community including families and other businesses and organizations are all going to need time to recover, including us,” Walsh said.

While Binder Park is closed to the public, workers continue to look after the animals.

Kangaroos at Binder Park Zoo on May 8, 2020.

“They need to be cared for, they need to be fed, their areas kept clean,” Walsh said.

The zoo is already coming up with health and safety procedures it can put in place once it gets the OK for people to see the animals.

“We will have signage. We will have hand sanitizing stations. We will have zoo staff with masks and gloves,” Walsh said.

If you would like to make a donation to support the zoo, visit the donations page on the Binder Park website.