Pandemic forces Artis to say goodbye to its lions
The coronavirus lockdowns has left Artis zoo in Amsterdam in such a bad financial state that it can not afford to keep its lions, the zoo said in a statement. The three lions will move to a zoo in France in mid-February, where they can stay together in a bigger enclosure than Artis can offer them.
"It was a difficult decision, because the lions are part of the identity of Artis," director Rembrandt Sutorius said. "They are a beautiful group of animals to which we are very attached. But since there is no perspective for when we can realize a larger enclosure, and the possibility arose to keep the lions together in a larger place, we decided to do so."
Due to the financial difficulties the zoo is currently facing, it had to put its "master plan 2030" on hold. Part of that plan was to build a new lion enclosure, with enough space to comfortably house the lion and two lionesses.
The coronavirus and its accompanying lockdowns closed Artis three times in less than a year. The number of visitors in 2020 halved compared to the year before. And income from ticket sales decreased by 63 percent. And while revenues fell, the zoo still had to care for its animals, plants and microbes, and maintain the over 80 buildings, 27 of which are monuments. All of that costs about 60 thousand euros per day, the zoo said.
"Over the next five years, we will be more than 20 million euros short for necessary maintenance and investments, for example, adaptions to animal enclosures. That is why we are forced to take far-reaching decisions," Sutorius said.
The zoo is also launching a national campaign under the hashtag #vergeetARTISniet, which translates to "don't forget Artis". The campaign calls on visitors, friends and enthusiasts to financially support the park while it can't open to visitors. On social media and in the podcast 'Artis vergeet je niet', various Dutch celebrities will share their favorite memories at the zoo. The podcast will be available from the weekend.
"Artis wants to continue to inspire and encourage a broad public to deal responsibly with nature and develop into a leading knowledge institute in the field of sustainability, biodiversity and nature conservation. Because such a place is needed more than ever in these times. But we do need money for that," Sutorius said.