RISING SUN — Any other year March is usually a welcome month at Plumpton Park Zoo.
"This time of year we start breaking even," said Nicholas Lacovara who, with his wife Cheryl, own the zoo on Telegraph Road in Rising Sun.
However Gov. Larry Hogan, in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, has ordered all entertainment venues in Maryland closed. That includes Plumpton Park Zoo.
This is the time of year when they can collect a good portion of the money from entry needed to feed their animals and pay their staff each month; about $50,000. The Lacovaras typically set aside a portion of the revenue collected through the spring, summer and fall to get them through the winter.
"Every year we struggle with putting money aside for winter and for improvements to the zoo," Lacovara said as he fed Romaine lettuce leaves to Jimmie and Annabelle, the zoo's pair of reticulated giraffes.
Thanks to the mild winter there were still visitors trickling in, he said. However now there would be school trips and day cares and other large groups on the schedule along with events and streams of visitors paying admission to help take care of the more than 200 animals that call Plumpton Park Zoo home.
Like other businesses the Lacovaras have made adjustments.
"Right now our staff is split into two teams. Each work four days on and four days off and one team never sees the other," he explained. That lessens the risk of infection. There's a third team comprised of the management staff, which he calls the "fail safe."
All the volunteers have been sent home, especially a group of Vietnam veterans, whose age puts them in the high risk category for contracting novel coronavirus.
To compensate several online fundraisers have been set up along with the regular access through PayPal at www.plumptonparkzoo.org. There's also fundraising links on GoFundMe, Facebook and Twitter.
Lacovara said those who would prefer to provide feed for the animals can contact Gifford's Farm Market & Feed Store on Biggs Highway in Rising Sun or Oxford Feed and Lumber in Oxford, Pa. and make a donation toward the feed bills there.