BC Wildlife Park's pandemic-related losses reach $270,000

The BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops estimates it lost more than a quarter million dollars in revenue during a 10-week closure necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

General manager, Glenn Grant, said the park missed out on some 27,000 visitors during their 10-week hiatus, and when factoring in an average of $10 spent per visitor lost out on about $270,000 in revenue.

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That loss however, was offset by donations and fundraisers during that time, which brought in about $108,000 for the park, he said.

“The community of Kamloops really stepped up,” Grant said.

The funds don’t outweigh the revenue loss, but the park also reduced costs by laying off 15 staff members, Grant said. They also didn’t hire as many seasonal workers as usual for the spring.

Typically they park has a staff of about 42 this time of year, which currently sits at about 34, Grant said.

Grant said he feels the park will be able to manage financially, noting its reserve funds and ample attendance in recent years, including a record 120,000 guests in 2019.

“We did have a reserve fund for a rainy day, we just never expected that rainy day to come so quick,” Grant said.

The animal rehabilitation facility in east Kamloops closed March 23 and reopened June 1.

Attendance has returned to near normal levels.

Grant said they had about 4,300 guests in the two weeks it’s been back up and running — 2,700 the first week and 1,530 last week.

“Attendance has been quite well,” Grant said, noting the first week was a bit higher than normal, but the second week was a bit below average, attributing the dip to the rainy weather Kamloops experienced.

The park is also able to accommodate the amount of visitors it typically sees on an average day, but not the volume of guests it greets for for special events, which have been cancelled for the coming months.

The park capped the total number of visitors to the 100-plus acres of land at 1,000 at any one time.

“Normally when we do reach that capacity it’s because of our larger special events,” Grant said, noting some 6,000 guests usually attend over the Easter weekend.

The park’s average attendance for the month of June is about 800 guests per day, but without any large events, is anticipating that number to drop to about 500.

There are a few changes people will notice, such as signage advising physical distance, plexiglass barriers at all purchase points and one way entrances and exits.

The Blue Heron Café remains open for take-out orders only with a limited menu.

Some amenities that remained shuttered on June 1 will be reopening — the playground opens this Saturday and the splash park reopens July 1.

The Wildlife Express miniature train is open on weekends with limited capacity and a requirement by health officials for riders to wear face masks.

Daily hours of operation at the wildlife park are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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