COVID-19 closure results in loss of 75% of operating income.


Zoo Knoxville is asking the community to help support the ongoing care of zoo animals while they are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Zoo Knoxville is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and 75% of their daily operating funds come from sales of tickets, annual passes and memberships, events and education programs. The zoo closed voluntarily effective Monday, March 16, 2020, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  The closure coincided with the beginning of area spring breaks and the time of year when the zoo begins to generate operating income that supports them for the entire year.   Each day the zoo is closed, they are losing an average of $22,500 that directly supports the animals.


“We want to reassure our community and supporters that the care and well-being of our animals will not be compromised,” said President and CEO Lisa New.  “We did not take this decision lightly but the safety of our community must take precedence. We are sensitive to the fact that our community’s needs are many at this time and are grateful to those who have asked how they can help.  We have set up an Emergency Animal Relief Fund and donations will go directly to the daily care of our animals.  Another way our community can rally around us is to purchase tickets and annual passes online today and plan to visit when we reopen.”


The zoo’s animal care staff and support team who are critical to operations are reporting to work each day to ensure continuity and quality of care.  Zoo Knoxville is also staying connected to the community through Facebook (@zooknoxville) with their “Bringing the Zoo to You” program showing behind-the-scenes animal updates from keepers.


Donations can be made and tickets and annual passes can be purchased at  Tickets will be good for the remainder of 2020 and annual passes will be valid for one year from the reopening date.


Zoo Knoxville is a nonprofit entity situated on 53 wooded acres just east of downtown Knoxville. Zoo Knoxville is Knoxville’s largest attraction and features exhibits of wild animals in natural habitats and is world renowned for its efforts in conservation and species survival. Zoo Knoxville is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. The zoo is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information visit