Reno Zoo Won't Have To Sell Animals After Donation

By  | 

The financially strapped Sierra Safari Zoo in Reno won't have to sell any animals after receiving the largest donation in its history, zoo officials said.

The Reno Rodeo Foundation donated $10,000 to the zoo last week, the latest of many donations made since news of the zoo's plight surfaced.

"Overall, since those stories, we have raised about $20,000," Jimmy Martin, the zoo's founder and co-director, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "Our goal is about $40,000, so we are halfway there.

"We are out of our immediate crisis because we were down to almost nothing. This donation came as a big surprise," he added.

The zoo is home to almost 200 animals, including lions, tigers, monkeys and alligators. It's also one of only two facilities in the country to display a liger, a cross between a lion and tiger.

Low attendance has put the zoo, which is open from April through October, into financial trouble, Martin said.

Admissions revenue this year dropped by 11.5 percent, to $57,418. At the same time, the zoo's cost of insurance jumped from $12,700 to $16,000.

Martin stressed that the zoo's money problems aren't over.

"This has probably been the worst financial jam we have been in," he said. "But we can't call this a big fund-raising success yet and have everybody stop donating."

Other key contributions include $2,500 from Western Nevada Supply Co. and $1,000 from Saturn of Reno. Most donations have come from individuals in the $25 to $50 range.

The rodeo foundation made the donation because the zoo adds to the quality of life for many schoolchildren, said president John Solari.

"This is basically all we have in our area for the kids to see all these different types of animals," he said. "It's a good cause, so hopefully they will keep it going and get some additional funding."