Neuwied The zoo in Neuwied was facing insolvency due to the pandemic. After a "call for help" 250,000 Euro in donations flowed. Now the park is saved – at least for the time being.
Zoo director Mirko Thiel's relief is palpable: Neuwied Zoo has been able to avert its impending insolvency. "I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams that our call for help a week ago would trigger such a response and at the same time a veritable wave of donations," reports the head of the Neuwied Zoo. Because: within four days, the largest zoo in Rhineland-Palatinate has collected donations and revenue of more than 250,000 Euro. "We continue to rely on private support, because how it will continue in the next few months, no one can predict," says Thiel on Monday at GA query.
On Saturday, Thiel together with Hans-Dieter Neuer, economic advisor to the zoo, Jan Einig, chairman of the zoo support association and at the same time mayor of Neuwied, as well as Timo Schöneberg, auditor and tax advisor to the zoo, had made a cash check. Result: The bankruptcy of the zoo, which was still feared on Monday of last week, has been averted for the time being, says Thiel. His "call for help" a week ago has been followed by private donations from countless people from the entire region, from entrepreneurs and local businesses, but also from associations and institutions at the Förderverein. "I suspected at first on Saturday that the bank must have made a mistake - put a decimal point wrong, for example," says the 47-year-old. But: the number was right.
"It actually went from five up to 10,000 Euro in individual donations," the zoo director reports. "We received an envelope from children, for example, and there was 37.50 Euro in it, which they took out of their savings account for us. I'm really very touched." Thiel sees the wave of helpfulness as a "nice appreciation for the work of our zoo."
Zoo loses 8000 Euro per day
The basic problem caused by the pandemic: for every day without visitors, the zoo in Neuwied's Heimbach-Weis district writes a loss of 8000 Euro - every day. "The zoo generates all the costs it incurs through entrance fees alone, income from the zoo school, donations, income from the zoo store and the additional sale of animal food," Neuer reports. In addition, there is a small subsidy from the city.
All this leads to a shortage of income of around 700,000 Euro in the coffers due to the closures. By its very nature, the non-profit association cannot build up large reserves to absorb such an extraordinary situation.
"Even during this time, the lion needs its daily portion of meat, the tapir its alfalfa hay and each seal eats three to four kilograms of fish per day," Thiel explains. "The animals in the Exotarium also now need an average temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, so there are no savings to be made in energy costs either. Expenses are therefore unchanged in all areas, such as feed, personnel and repairs," he calculates.
Without the income now received from donations or day ticket and voucher sales, the Neuwied Zoo would have been insolvent at the end of February, Thiel said. "If we are allowed to reopen in March and donations continue to reach us, we will get by," he said. The zoo, which has around 270,000 visitors annually, is expected to generate further income from bridging aid, as Förderverein head Einig calculates: "The requested bridging aid for November should be paid out at the beginning of next week. December and January aid has been applied for and is in the process," Einig reports. In addition, the November feed aid will be extended to June, and the 50,000 Euro in state funding for the Prince Max zu Wied Hall, a building for South American animals that opened in 2018, which has not yet been disbursed, has been approved, the CDU politician said.
"As a result, the economic situation of the zoo has eased to such an extent that we as the zoo support association do not want to take advantage of any additional special funding at this time in the form of a bailout from the state, as has been under discussion for days," the mayor said. For him it would „not be explicable to the many enterprises, institutions, associations and federations in difficulties – caused by the Corona crisis to call for further national emergency assistance", says Einig. This had looked fundamentally different at the beginning of last week. "None of those responsible at Neuwied Zoo could have expected such a rapid positive development."
If you would like to help the zoo, please find information at www.zooneuwied.de.
(Original text: Mario Quadt / Translation: Mareike Graepel)