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Minnesota Zoo getting $6M bailout from state

Gov. Tim Walz had said the zoo may have to move animals or close if it doesn't get financial support.

The Minnesota Zoo is getting a much-needed $6 million bailout from the state.

Gov. Tim Walz has authorized the release of the bailout from the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund, which was originally created to maintain state government operations during the peacetime emergency.

The Minnesota Legislature did not approve that funding during the regular or Special Session. However, on Tuesday, a 10-member panel of legislative leaders approved the bailout, which will come out of the state's COVID-19 relief fund, FOX 9 reports

The zoo is a state agency that typically gets about one-third of its operating budget from the state, while two-thirds comes from earned revenue and contributions.

Opened in Apple Valley in 1978, the zoo has been closed since March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic, except for a drive-through experience called Beastly Boulevard, which was recently extended to July 12. 

As a result, the zoo hasn't been able to bring in revenue from ticket and concession sales. It has had to lay off dozens of workers and has been forced to cancel events, like the popular Music in the Zoo.

But despite efforts to save money, the zoo has projected a $15 million revenue loss for the biennium due to the pandemic, the zoo told BMTN in June.

The zoo has been "actively" working on phased reopening plans, but even with the plans in place, it says it won't be able to sustain long-term without support from the state "given the significance of the revenue loss during the closure," the zoo said.  

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Last month, the zoo asked the Minnesota Legislature for $6 million to cover losses it has incurred during the pandemic and Gov. Tim Walz said the zoo may have to move animals or close if it doesn't get financial support. 

This comes a week after Gov. Walz announced $853 million in federal money would be released statewide for coronavirus relief. 

The $6 million will replace roughly 40 percent of the zoo's projected revenue loss for the biennium, the zoo previously told BMTN. 

There are other ways to support the zoo. People can also make financial contributions online here

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