Dresden (dpa / sn) - Fewer visitors and lower income: The break during the Corona lockdown in spring and autumn has brought heavy losses to the zoos and animal parks in Saxony.
"It has been a difficult year, especially for large zoos," said the Leipzig zoo director Jörg Junhold, who is also president of the Association of Zoological Gardens.
Smaller zoos and animal parks without a large national audience, however, were well attended.
A survey by the dpa news agency revealed that the losses were partially offset by donations or grants from the public sector.
At Leipzig Zoo, the number of visitors fell by around 400,000 to 1.35 million.
"Without the broad public and political support that would be threatening the existence," said Junhold.
There has been a wave of sympathy.
More than one million euros in donations have come in through a fundraising campaign and the Friends' Association.
The city of Leipzig has promised financial aid for 2020 to 2022.
Around 630,000 animal lovers have passed the cash registers at the entrance to the Dresden zoo, a drop in visitors of around 270,000 guests.
The city should compensate for the financial failures in spring.
How the deficit that has been incurred since November will be compensated is still open, however, it said.
Despite the Corona crisis, Zoo Director Karl-Heinz Ukena wants to stick to the start of construction for a new Oran-Utan house planned for this summer.
The construction costs were estimated at around 17 million euros.
"We cannot count on an investment grant from the city because of the current situation," said Ukena.
Therefore, the zoo wants to take out a loan of 12 million euros, 3 million euros are to be raised from its own resources, 500,000 euros come from the Friends of the Dresden Zoo.
Ukena is hoping for donations for the missing 1.5 million euros.
For the animals it is sometimes unfamiliar that hardly any people can be seen.
"Our big cats miss the visitors, they usually observe them all day," said Leipzig Zoo.
That falls away now.
The great apes also lacked humans.
Other animals such as the wild species in Gondwanaland conquered areas that are otherwise reserved for visitors.
"All animals have in common that they register employees who walk past the enclosure, much more attentively," said a zoo spokeswoman.
The nature conservation animal park Görlitz-Zgorzelec is deliberately intended as a meeting place for humans and animals.
Many animals such as goats, sheep, alpacas, donkeys and camels received pats from the visitors, the pigs were scratched by the visitors with installed brushes, reported zoo spokeswoman Isa Plath.
In the case of other animal species, visitors to the zoo help with the feeding, distributing the vegetables for the porcupines, grass for goats, donkeys and guinea pigs, and grating fresh carrots for the chicks.
Unfortunately, these meetings could not take place at the moment, she said.
According to Plath, there were around 20 percent fewer visitors in 2020 than in previous years.
Accordingly, the income has broken away.
Through savings and donations from visitors, it was possible to partially offset the losses.
"We were particularly overwhelmed by the first wave of donations," said Plath.
In addition, there was a small state aid in the form of Corona hardship funding for culture.
Nevertheless, a minus of about 10 percent remains.
The newly born leopard girl Nala, the new leopard enclosure and a completely redesigned penguin enclosure attracted many visitors to the zoo in Hoyerswerda during the summer.
The zoological director Eugène Bruins said that this partially compensated for the losses of around 100,000 euros in the spring.
The loss of income from the zoo in Weißwasser in East Saxony is around 45,000 euros.
That is around 10 percent of the total budget.
Instead of the expected 43,000 visitors, only 33,000 came.
About 35,000 euros came in through donations and animal sponsorships, said Gert Emmrich from the zoo's board of directors.
"Last year was economically very difficult."