Organizations have suffered during COVID, even America’s First Zoo


Next week, the Philadelphia Zoo is partnering with 6ABC for an all-new fundraiser event to help support its mission-important work in animal care, education and community engagement and impact. With the pandemic, the zoo—along with many other cultural establishments in the city —have been hit hard, and happenings such as these are stepping stones to help keep these Philly landmarks functioning amidst the continuous impact of COVID-19. 

The Zoo-a-Thon Fundraiser takes the form of a classic telethon and the multi-platform event scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 19. The fundraising begins at 6 a.m. on 6abc’s morning newscast and continues throughout the day with Facebook Live segments onsite at the zoo at 10 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. Viewers can log onto 6abc’s and the zoo’s Facebook pages to watch animals and special guests throughout the event.


Alicia Vitarelli will be reporting live from the zoo during the midday television broadcast at 12:30 p.m., then viewers can tune into the 6abc evening newscast and join meteorologist Cecily Tynan, live at the zoo, for an evening of feature stories spotlighting the zoo’s work and current financial needs starting at 4 p.m. 

When the pandemic first hit Philly back in the spring, the zoo had to close it’s gates for 100 days. The effects, even after other fundraising efforts, was quite impactful on the organization. Although they were able to keep staff on to help take care of the animals and even run some virtual behind the scenes moments for Philadelphians, the zoo still suffered immensely. 

“We are facing close to a $20 million loss this year alone, this level of financial hardship puts our mission, legacy and future at-risk. We need our region’s support now more than ever. A gift of any amount will make a difference,” says Vikram H. Dewan, Philadelphia Zoo’s President & CEO in a statement. “For more than 160 years, Philadelphia Zoo has served the region as one of the most important destinations for children and families. It is a place where so many have made lasting memories together and are inspired to make their own positive impact on our world. We need the region’s s help now more than ever.”

There are a few ways that Philadelphians can help support the country’s first zoo: Text PhillyZoo to 243725 to donate now, make a gift online today at, or talk to Zoo staff that will be onsite on Nov. 19. Animal-lovers can also call 1-888-PHI-Zoo8 (1-888-744-9668) to donate anytime from 6 a.m.- 6:30 p.m.

Of course, visitors can also visit the zoo in-person to help support. 

Philadelphians who head to the popular destination will get to see all outdoor exhibits, including Zoo360, a first-in-the-world system of see-through trails passing through treetops, crossing over pathways and connecting habitats, giving animals like big cats, primates and meerkats the opportunities to travel and explore. Visitors can also experience more grab-and-go food selections and touchless transactions at food locations like The Urban Green, Impala Plaza and Eagles’ Roost for mobile order scheduled pick-up as well as window service and Dippin’ Dots (as always, guests can also bring their own food to the zoo as well.) 

However, there will be a few attractions at the zoo that for the time being, will remain closed such as indoor animal exhibits and attractions including the Rainforest Carousel, Wildworks Ropes Course, SEPTA PZ Express Train and Swan Boats. 


To help keep everything under control safety-wise as well, the zoo will be adding in touchless toilets, faucets, paper towel and soap dispensers; hand sanitizing stations throughout the campus; new procedures that allow public safety officers to check bags without touching and also a Clean Team of staffers dedicated to sanitizing and cleaning high touch areas.

According to a release, throughout its history, the zoo has remained the region’s largest living classroom, offering a place of learning and inspiration for tens of thousands of school kids, many through the Community Access Program, which enables thousands to visit who couldn’t otherwise. With more than 1 million annual visitors, the zoo is the only place to see magnificent African lions, majestic Western lowland gorillas, and amazing giraffes and more in person — not just on TV. A visit to the zoo takes guests out of their screen-focused lives and reminds all of the beauty and diversity of the planet we call home.  

For more information or to purchase and print tickets online, visit and keep up with the zoo on social media on Facebook: PhiladelphiaZoo; Instagram: @philadelphiazoo; Twitter: @phillyzoo.

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