The Sài Gòn Zoo and Botanical Garden is the country’s largest zoo and botanical garden. It attracts several thousand visitors every day. — Photo courtesy of the Sài Gòn Zoo and Botanical Garden
HCM CITY — The Sài Gòn Zoo and Botanical Garden in HCM City, one of the world's oldest, has received several tonnes of meat, fruit and vegetable donations to help it take care of its animals amid the second COVID-19 outbreak.
The zoo received more than 20 tonnes of meat, fruits and vegetables donated by visitors, individuals and organisations in the city and neighbouring provinces.
More than VNĐ2.5 billion (US$107,000) in cash was also included.
The donation began after the zoo’s social media campaign called for public donations launched last week following its closure due to the spread of the virus.
According to its managing board, the zoo is self-financed with income mostly from ticket sales. It closed for two months from March to May following COVID-19 containment measures. It reopened on May 15 and again closed on July 25 after the return of the coronavirus in Đà Nẵng.
“We are facing challenges to keep our business alive. We called for help from the public to help us take care of around 1,500 animals, including hundreds of rare species,” said Mai Khắc Trung Trực, head of the zoo’s animal division.
The zoo’s staff of 270 agreed to a 30 per cent cut in their monthly salary in August while working full-time to care of the animals.
From May 15 to July 25, the zoo earned VNĐ15 million ($645) a day from ticket sales, a significant drop from the pre-pandemic VNĐ300 million ($12,900).
The Sài Gòn Zoo and Botanical Garden has received several tonnes of meat, fruits and vegetables donated by visitors to help the zoo take care of its animals. — Photo from the Sài Gòn Zoo and Botanical Garden
According to Trực, the zoo needs about VNĐ6 billion ($259,000) per month to care for and feed its animals. Nearly five tonnes of meat, vegetables, fruits and leaves should be offered daily. These ingredients, supplied by the zoo’s partners alongside its own farm in Củ Chi District, should be clean, fresh and meet quality and disease checks before processing by specialists.
“My family donated 50 kilograms of vegetables, bananas and dragon fruit to the zoo after learning about its online call for donations,” said Trần Trung Tín, a resident of Củ Chi District, who takes his children to visit and camp at the zoo every summer.
“We believe the zoo will finally win over the virus,” he said.
The Sài Gòn Zoo and Botanical Garden was established in 1895 and is the country’s largest zoo and botanical garden.
Located in Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm Street in District 1 in downtown HCM City, it is home to hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles, birds and rare orchids and ornamental plants.
The zoo includes the Museum of Vietnamese History of more than 25,000 artefacts featuring the traditional culture of southern Việt Nam.
It has worked with international organisations such as the South East Asian Zoos Association (SEAZA) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). — VNS