Despite financial challenges due to the novel Covid-19 pandemic, the Brevard Zoo has remained committed to the wellness of the animals and their many community projects at large.

During the past 25 years—the non-profit has weathered hurricanes, droughts, even past recessions— but has stayed focused on caring for the more than 900 animals sheltered there.

Additionally they have remained dedicated to supporting wildlife conservation throughout our area.

“It has been tough, not just for us, but everyone,” said Andrea Hill, Marketing Director.

“Our volunteers and staff have been working to restore living shorelines and rehabbing sick and injured sea turtles in the ocean and on the Indian River Lagoon.” Last month the Brevard Zoo answered a request from the Florida Fish and Wildlife conservation commission to care for an orphaned bear cub found in the Ocala national forest.

Now under the primary care of Lauren Hinson, Brevard Zoo curator, the cub, which was given the name Brody, is healthy and feeding well.

For Hinson, and other staff , who are caring for the animals, a schedule has been set forth to continue with social distancing among them.

“We’ve split up into two teams, and continue to follow strict guidelines about social distancing and sanitizing,” said Hinson. She added, “My work load has been expanded a bit, to include helping with

such husbandry chores as cleaning and maintaining the animal habitats.

“We are also working on several projects and repairs during the closure, things we cannot usually do with visitors present. So that has been good and is keeping us busy.” During April, in addition to Brody becoming a new resident at the Brevard Zoo, a Masai giraffe, weighing in at 125 lbs. and measuring six-feet tall was born to parents, Johari and Rafiki. It was her ninth male calf born in captivity here.

The newest addition to the zoo was the birth of a frogmouth bird, born April 21. The tawny nocturnal

chick, known for its bright yellow eyes is related to the nightjar species and native to Australia.

During what is normally the busiest time of the year for the zoo, the global pandemic has hit hard. The non-profit, who receives no public funding for operations, relies on ticket sales, memberships, educational program fees, special event revenues and community donations.

On Tuesday, May 5th, as part of the Brevard Zoo’s #Giving Zoo Day, a the global initiative created in response to COVID-19, the Viera zoo raised nearly $40k, a goal that was set to fund costs to feed the animals for the next two months. The movement, which unleashes the power of people and organizations throughout cities around the world to donate financially and help transform communities, has been a beneficial way to keep zoos and other non-profits like afloat during these unprecedented times.

According to Hill, hopes are that the Brevard Zoo will be able to re-open with special “social distancing” guidelines intact by the end of this month or the beginning of June. “We have been promoting new membership opportunities that we hope can help support us financially now. Residents can purchase a new membership or renew their current one—with the date to begin on the day the zoo reopens.

As far as the animals go—yes, they miss the guest too!

“Many of the birds, including “Goofy” our cockatoo, and the macaws are accustomed to interacting with people daily. The giraffes, always looking for the lettuce fed by visitors, have also been affected,” said Hinson.

“We also have set up virtual content on our website and via social media sites to help keep our community connected to us and nature,” added Hill.

“Connecting with nature is a great way to ease anxiety and produce a calming effect. We are grateful for all the community support.”