Red River Zoo closes to the public amid coronavirus pandemic

The zoo is trying to care for its animal without any ticket revenue

FARGO, N.D. — On a typical warm day like this one, Sally Jacobson says the Red River Zoo would be packed.

But instead of kids and families roaming about, the only movement now is the few staff members left taking care of the animals.

“We can’t just close the doors and have everyone stay home. We have rare animals that need care, so we’ve divided the remaining staff into two teams that work different shifts,” says Jacobson, who is the Executive Director at the zoo.

The zoo had to let go of 10 of its 24 staff members because of the coronavirus pandemic and has closed its doors completely to the public.

“For us, it hit us particularly hard because we completely rely on people at the gates, memberships, events, birthday parties, for income.”

With zero income from gate tickets, it’s uncertain what lies ahead for the zoo.

“We make most of our money for the year in the few months that it’s really beautiful out here, so we’ve got about, you know, from now until September is when we make most of the money that operates the zoo for the year, so this could impact us for the year, really,” says Jacobson.

She says emergency grants and donations from community members is what will help keep the facility afloat until it can reopen.

“We’re looking forward to, you know, at some point opening the gates up again.”

Until then, the staff remains optimistic about what’s to come.

“Once we do get past this bump that we are all in right now, I know people are going to want to be outside spending time with their families, and the zoo is a fantastic place for that, so we look forward to that day.”

It’s a day kids and families who make sure the zoo is a part of their spring and summer plans can look forward to as well.

To donate to the Red River Zoo, visit its Facebook page or website at

Categories: Community, Coronavirus, Coronavirus-ND, Local News, North Dakota News