Zoo Update with Denise Verret, Zoo Director and CEO

Denise M. Verret, Zoo Director and CEO Photo by Jamie Pham

This time last year, our Zoo was faced with an uncertain economic outlook as we remained closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last 15 months have been difficult, challenging, and even disheartening at times. Zoos, aquariums, and wildlife conservation organizations from all over the world were forced to thin their operating budgets and staffing to offset the deficits caused by the pandemic. However, hope does spring eternal, and I am confident in our future. Just prior to the onset of the pandemic, the Los Angeles Zoo commissioned a report evaluating the Zoo’s economic and social impact on Southern California. The positive findings in this report support the importance of the role of zoos, not only in the economy, but in our overall quality of life.

Highlighting the Zoo’s impact from the 2018–2019 fiscal year, this report provides insight into regaining our foothold in the future as we recover from the pandemic. Data show that the Zoo’s operational activities, capital expenditures, concessions, and visitors have a significantly positive impact on Southern California’s economy, resulting in $199 million in economic output in the region through jobs, tourism, and other sources, with the Zoo’s direct spending being a driving force toward that total.

Additionally, the Zoo’s impact goes far beyond economic stability; the Zoo provides essential social improvements through its programs and partnerships with the community. The reporting year shows that more than 500,000 individuals participated in the Zoo’s various community engagement programs that strive to build an understanding and connection between communities and wildlife, which is core to our mission. And we are continually pushing to expand our efforts globally. Our Zoo, members, visitors, and donors play a critical role in the conservation of endangered species, and, together, we are vital to the relationship between humans and nature. As we continue to rebuild our future, our Zoo will enhance and expand the part we play as a resource and leader in the community, changing the world that we share for the better.

The economic and social impact of our Zoo is nothing short of extraordinary, and I am so happy to finally have the chance to share these results with all of you. Our successes are built upon the connections and the impact that we make together. While we navigate the home stretch of a period filled with so many uncertainties, we will move forward stronger and more resilient in building a more sustainable future where people and wildlife thrive together. Our impact will only deepen and widen for years to come with your continued support.

Author: Denise Verret